DON’T LOOK AWAY
July 4, 2022
Leanne Carr tried to keep her eyes open throughout her murder.
She didn’t scream—that was pointless. This part of the sub-basement was completely deserted, dark and cavernous. Security teams had swept the area clean twenty-four hours ago in preparation for today’s event, not even allowing the round-the-clock construction workers access. Then they’d locked down the whole site.
Just her misfortune that she had a high enough security clearance to get around the lockdown. Because the measures used to keep unauthorized people out had done a magnificent job of trapping her in. With a psychopath.
She would have fought if she could. But that had been impossible once her attacker, dressed all in black, had stuck a metal device on her upper arm, sending a million frissons of electric pain rocketing through her. After that, Leanne had been able to do nothing more than lie on the cold concrete floor, every muscle in her body still twitching. Helpless. Useless. Watching groggily as he began to cut her clothes away, piece by piece, not seeming to care if he occasionally took chunks of her skin along with them.
Strange, the cutting didn’t hurt as much as she would have expected. Maybe because she was still feeling the reverberations of shock from the weapon he’d used to stun her. Maybe because her mind had begun to remove itself from this situation.
Maybe because she was already dead.
No, not dead. She wasn’t experiencing the expected agony of the knife, and the images before her eyes weren’t making sense in her brain. Darkness, just darkness. But her other senses hadn’t completely failed her. She could smell something peculiar. Medicinal. Metallic. Probably blood, which she could also taste on her lips from the first, shocking blow to her face.
Leanne could also still hear enough to know the world continued to turn outside this private corner of hell. Above the hiss of his deep, even breathing, which was driving her mad with its absolute normalcy, came the faint whomp-whomp of powerful rotor blades passing far overhead.
In her mind, she heard the rest of what must be going on. The voices of carefully-screened, hand-picked reporters calling out pre-approved questions. The college marching band chosen from among thousands of applicants for the honor of playing the national anthem. The patriotic onlookers cheering through their tears, just as each song and every speech was scripted to make them do.
The moment had arrived, the big event she’d been helping to coordinate for the past several months. Funny how little it mattered now, in the last moments of her life.
There was also one more sound slowly building in Leanne’s head which finally drove all other thoughts away. With every nerve ending that came limping back to life, only to experience another kind of pain, the noise grew louder.
It was the sound of her moans. Which, she had no doubt, would eventually become screams.
But not dead yet, she reminded herself, though she knew she soon would be. Probably not as soon as she’d like given the way her attacker, so silent but for his breathing, so deliberate in his movements, looked beneath his mask. She could just make out the curve of his mouth behind a draping of black fabric that covered his entire head. He—possibly she?—was smiling.
No. Death would not come soon enough.
That was all she could manage. Leanne herself, however, wasn’t sure what she was asking. Please let her go? Please let her die? Please let this not be happening?
He ignored her. She tried to focus on anything that could be used to identify him—the shade of his skin, any identifying marks, just as she had been trained to do. But he was well-covered. Hopefully there would be something. Maybe the darkness wouldn’t prevent the investigators from finding some clue she didn’t even recognize
He began to scrape the tip of the knife over her body in long, deliberate sweeps. Slow. Almost erotic, as though he were caressing her.
The sensations built in intensity as her nerve endings limped back to life and transmitted the messages of pain to her weary brain. A thin trail of fire traced the blade’s route across her shoulder, around her neck, between her breasts, down her stomach. Until it reached her bloody thighs and moved between them.
It was tempting to let go. To shut her eyes and wait for it to be over. But the certainty of her impending murder kept her eyelids from falling, even though her mind wasn’t fully processing everything she saw. She couldn’t, as a matter of fact, process much of anything except the glittering silver of the weapon, tightly clenched in a black-gloved hand.
Suddenly, a brilliant light came on, shining right in her face, blinding her. She groaned, clenching her eyes shut.
It didn’t matter. Even if she could no longer see what was happening, after this was all over, someone else would examine the pictures in her mind.
And would catch her murderer.
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Genre - Thriller
Rating – R
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