"Twisted and Gnarled" by Billie Sue Mosiman
This story was from "Dark Screams: Vol 8" edited by Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar. Published by Hydra an imprint of Random House.
Which number will you be? This was a story about a serial killer and his victims. A serial killer who refers to his victims as numbers... just numbers. How much more can you disassociate yourself from what you're doing than not even naming your victims.
This serial killer story was not just your run of the mill serial killer story. The story was a serial killer with a paranormal twist. The story gave me a familiar feeling like I was reading a Dean Koontz novel. The same type of paranormal twists that he would use. Just subtle enough to make it believable, but just enough to give it the supernatural feel.
The story was told from two perspectives. The story switched perspective with a heading to the respective sections. The him was the serial killer's perspective. The her was related to a victim. Mostly the story was told from the perspective of the serial killer. That's where we spent most of our story time.
The serial killer was a literal genius. Based on testing he was well above the average I.Q. of most people. He liked to pride himself on his intelligence. He also liked to pride himself on being smarter than the police. He liked to play games with the police and know that he pulled off the perfect murder. The perfect crime. Until the day he made mistake number one. And mistake number one led to mistake number two. Number two was his undoing.
The serial killer liked to follow his victims and get a feel for their activities. Then he would make his move and kill his victim. After his kill he liked to pose the victims for the police to find. The pose is all part of the game for the serial killer.
One day he was walking along the beach and found a piece of driftwood. It had a gnarled, knobby, end with a razor-sharp point on the other end. The idea struck him immediately. This would be his next weapon for the next number on his list.
After seducing a woman and leading her to a beach he killed her exactly as he planned. He used the gnarled and twisted piece of driftwood to stab her to death. After he committed his crime he made mistake number one. The next day on the news they mentioned his mistake and the serial killer went crazy with self-hatred of making a mistake.
He decided to press on and go after another victim. This time he found a victim and followed her to a bar. Here his victim was at the bar with her mother. After some pleading for her daughter to come home with her, the mother eventually left. After a while the victim finally left the bar. While on her way home she met her demise. This was mistake number two.
The mother has psychic visions. These visions led her on a chase with the serial killer and a game of cat and mouse. This mother was part of the story when the perspective changes.
The rest of the story is the cat and mouse game they play with each other. Who will come out the victor? The serial killer who is smart and always one step ahead of his prey? Or a mother determined to take revenge and the man who killed her daughter?
This was a great serial killer short story. I very much enjoyed this story. This was one of the longer stories in the anthology, but felt like one of the shorter ones. Pages just kept turning and I was wondering what would happen next.
I liked the writing style the author had. The style made the story very easy to read and everything flowed smoothly from section to section. Never was there a time I felt lost or confused. The style was easy to read without much fluff or overdone big word language that seems to put speed bumps in paragraphs.
If you like serial killer stories you'll like this story. If you enjoy cat and mouse stories, you'll enjoy this story. Overall, even if you don't this wouldn't be a bad story to start with because I think you'll enjoy the story. If you get the chance to read this story don't pass it up. Give it a go, I don't think you'll be disappointed