Authors: G. Bernard Ray
The Final Shortcut
G. Bernard Ray
This is a work of fiction. The events and characters described herein are imaginary and are not intended to refer to specific places or living persons. The opinions expressed in this manuscript are solely the opinions of the author and do not represent the opinions or thoughts of the publisher. The author has represented and warranted full ownership and/or legal right to publish all the materials in this book.
The Final Shortcut
All Rights Reserved.
Copyright © 2012 G. Bernard Ray
Cover Photo © 2012 G. Bernard Ray. All rights reserved - used with permission.
This book may not be reproduced, transmitted, or stored in whole or in part by any means, including graphic, electronic, or mechanical without the express written consent of the publisher except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
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Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick....the tiny alarm clock echoed loudly. The persistent sound echoed off every wall in the tiny apartment. It was the only sound in an otherwise deathly silent place. His deformed face was twisted into a sardonic grimace, a bit of drool ran down his chin from the down-turned corner of his mouth. He sat in a wooden, straight back chair with his arms hanging limply at his side. His chest and legs were covered with blood. Sticky nuggets of flesh were ground into the treads of his boots. Thick droplets of blood slowly formed and fell from the corner of his apron. A trail of blood ran from his feet to the door, a door which led to the grinding room. It was a small, hideously vile room that reeked of old blood and rotted flesh. But tonight the floor was covered with fresh blood. Well used over the years and it had been well used tonight. It was fully stocked with the tools of his obsession. There was a meat grinder with a sausage packing attachment, several large bins of spices, mixing bowls, and three large freezers. Hours had passed since he had finished his work and he sat perfectly still, staring into space, physically exhausted but wide awake. Every muscle in his body ached from a long night of exertion; his eyes were dry and sore. The latent deformity of his sagging right eye was more painful than usual. A few shotgun pellets were still lodged in his right arm. He had forgotten about them as he frantically worked to complete his grisly duty. Unaware of the hour, he just listened to the unremitting ticking and glared at the wall.
Three at once, the most he had ever done at one time. So much work, but he felt well satisfied. When he decided to take the semi from Southeast Distributors he hadn’t realized it was a long distance hauler. He hadn’t realized that two relief drivers were sleeping in the back compartment. The first kill was the driver... easy...
His day started like many others with breakfast in his mother’s restaurant. She was always there at the crack of dawn to tend her regular customers. Most of which were on their job before the traffic from the interstate began. Much of the little mountain town of Bontonville’s revenue came from travelers and truckers. “Ellen’s Place” was a regular stop for many, and a popular stop with the locals. It had become increasingly popular over the years. And it had the great fortune of being the only nice place to stop for many miles. All of which suited Junior just fine. He could hunt all he liked and he didn’t have to keep long hours around his shop. “Junior’s Fine Leather Goods” was attached to Ellen’s dining room and the guests could peruse his handmade leather goods at any time. He had a great skill at tanning leather and he used many different kinds of hides. He was equally skilled at hunting, something that took a great deal of his time. And on days like today he would hunt special game. Not for fun but to fulfill his persistent inner need.
Long before daylight he awoke but stayed in his bed listening to the sounds of the mountain. Through his open window he could hear the animals waking up and making their morning calls. He could hear Ellen in her room getting ready for work and he lay silently in his room while she left. She rarely checked to see if he was awake or if he was even in his room. He spent many nights in the woods in his hunting shack. As he listened to her drive away from the house he opened his eyes for the first time to see if the sun was rising. He lifted his head enough to look across the horizon. An old familiar feeling had crept into his body and he knew that he would soon have to do something to fix it. The pain always started low in his back and slowly worked itself up his spine and into his head. There it would grow and grow until it was a relentless force that had to be dealt with. He found it hard just to get up and get dressed, but he had to, he had to tend to the pounding in his brain.
This time it had quickly become intense and as he sat in the diner staring at his coffee, it began to pulsate rapidly, furiously. It was a familiar pain, and it was never welcome.
Usually he had time to plan his attacks. He took pride in picking out the perfect victim from the clientele at Ellen’s. Over the years he had taken many without a single misstep in his plans. It was almost a routine, and today he didn’t feel like waiting or varying from his well used method. He only had to wait for the right customer to walk in. It had to be someone that wasn’t a local or too well known. He decided to walk outside and try to ease the pounding in his head. It was hard to look relaxed with the commotion rattling his brain. He started to pace back and forth across the front porch, but he stopped himself before he attracted any attention. It was going to have to be soon or he felt he would scream. Just then a tandem trailer truck pulled in and the driver hopped out.
“Morning.” He stretched his arms above his head and walked across the lot toward Junior. “Can I get some sandwiches to go here?”
“Yeh...yeh you can.” Junior tried to put on a pleasant face but it was not coming across well. “Where you headed?’
“Ohio, still got a ways to go.”
“Yeh...what you hauling?” Junior was looking at this driver with a more welcome smile now. He was thinking that this one could be the cure to his terrible ailment.
“Some kind of medical supplies from Germany.” The driver stepped up to the door and smiled at Junior as he walked inside.
“Would you be interested in taking a shortcut?” Junior smiled and walked in after the driver. Not many truckers could refuse a chance to shave a few miles off their trip. And Junior was ready to ease his pain by luring this one into his private hell. The route he would tell him about would lead him directly into his hands. And this was the only way he could feel any relief in his anguished brain.
A short while later Junior was waiting at a tried and true ambush spot next to the roadblock he had constructed. Like so many others, the truck came to an abrupt stop just where he planned. The pain was already relenting and he was in a more playful mood. So he waited until the driver had gotten out of the cab before making his move. Not concerned about making any noise he walked out of the bushes and confronted the man. Stuck a pose like a Wild West gunfighter and put his hand on the pistol at his waist.
“Draw pardner.” He did his best to mimic John Wayne.
“What the...” The driver was shocked to see the broad shouldered man standing before him wearing a western holster and pistol. Junior’s face was deformed and his mouth grimaced, in a horrible grin.
“Look...I got a few dollars in the cab...I ain’t got much else”
“I don’t want your money you snake...draw...DRAW!!” Junior glared at the man and started to count. “One...two...”
“HELP!!” With one loud scream he turned and ran. Junior pulled out the huge 45 caliber revolver and fired. The first round hit the man in the center of his back, the second hit a little higher. He fired twice more just for fun and he laughed manically as he watched the blood spatter on the truck. The driver fell face first in the gravel and exhaled, then nothing else. The holes in his back were the size of Junior’s thumb. But his chest had exploded in shreds covering the fender with blood and gore.
A noise from inside the truck made Junior jump and it rattled his nerves drastically. He hated surprises, especially ones that didn’t fit in with his plans. Another man in the truck had looked out of the door just as Junior started shooting and quickly slammed the door. Junior stepped back and looked intently at the truck. He stared in disbelief and for a moment he was unable to move. He had never had any witnesses before. He had never had to handle this kind of situation.
“What do I do now daddy? What do I do? I ain’t never got caught....nobody ever saw me.” He stared at the truck for a brief few seconds, beads of sweat gushed from his forehead. Then a look of revelation came over his face. “Yeh ...you’re right daddy, I’ll do that right now.”
Without a seconds pause he jumped up on the running board of the truck and tried to open the door. Locked! For a second he thought he could shoot out the window and open the door, but as he looked inside he saw a man with a sawed off shotgun coming out of the sleeper cabin. He quickly dropped off the running board just as the man shot out the window above his head. Glass sprayed in his face and narrowly missed his eyes. He landed hard on his butt on the ground and immediately rolled under the truck at the same moment the door opened. He crawled quickly to the other side and hid beside the right front wheel. His breath was coming in gasps; he had never been shot at before. In all his years of hunting, no one had ever surprised him before. This was not in his plan and it made him furious.
But in his fury he felt euphoria, his senses were alive. His heart pounded as he tried to think of his next move. Just then he sensed movement and jerked his head around. Another man was looking at him from inside the truck. Two men! His anxiety was at a peak now; torrents of sweat ran down his brow burning his eyes. He had wanted to play wild western shoot-out but he never imagined he would have to face two men at once.
“Where are you? Show yourself!” The man with the shotgun moved slowly out onto the ground. “Watch out Coy, Bill’s been shot!” He took a careful stance by the door slowly moving toward the front of the truck. “There’s a man out here with a gun, get on the phone and call for help.”
For the first time in almost twenty years Junior was afraid that he would be found out. No one had ever been able to call for help. No one had ever put him in this kind of situation. He had to do something and he had to do it quick. His father’s voice echoed in his head and knew what to do. He stepped away from the truck and walked around the front of the truck with the pistol held shoulder high. As he rounded the fender he came face to face with the other man.
“Drop the gun or I’ll....” The man never got a chance to finish, Junior fired point blank into his face putting a thumb sized hole next to his nose. Brains and bone sprayed sloppily on the open door. At the same instant the man squeezed the trigger on the shotgun and blasted Junior and the front tire. Junior gasped for breath as he staggered backward. The blast had torn away some of his shirt and a few pellets were lodged in his arm. Luckily it had been a light gauge shell and the pellets were small. Most of the blast hit the truck as the man fell. For brief second he felt happy having survived a near death experience. But his thought quickly returned to the task at hand. There was another man to deal with. One with a phone. No time to lose he bounded for the open door to trap his quarry. When he lunged inside the younger man was on the CB radio. “HELP ME! THERE”S A MAN WITH A GUN AND HE”S KILLED THE OTH...” He saw Junior and dove into the back of the truck. Junior fired again but the bullet struck the seat. He fired again only to find he was out of ammunition. Just then the other man lunged from the rear cabin with a baseball bat and smashed Junior squarely in the shoulder with all the force he could muster. Enough force that it propelled Junior back out of the truck and onto the ground. He landed hard flat on his back and he fought to catch his breath.
“Come back...do you need some help?” The radio squawked loudly in the cab and Coy grabbed the mic in a desperate plea for help.
“THERE’S A MAN WITH A GUN....HE KILLED MY TWO OTHER DRIVERS ALREADY...HELP ME!” His voice was frantic as he screamed out in desperation.
“This is Cole County Fire and Rescue....Where are you?”
“I...I don’t know...I just woke up... I....I was sleeping while Bill was driving.” He looked around trying to find something to tell him where he was. There was nothing but trees and mountain. As he looked out at the ground to see where the man with the gun was, he was shocked to find that he was gone! He slammed the door and locked both sides in a vain hope to keep the killer away.
“I need to know where you are and I’ll send some help, over.”
“He’s right outside...I don’t know where he is...where I am. Oh God help me!” He realized that he was doomed, lost somewhere in the mountains with a madman after him. No cell phone signal and only a CB radio to call for help. Then it dawned on him to try and drive out. He was a driver in training but he could drive well enough to get away. The motor was still running. He just had to throw it in reverse and run. He looked around carefully and didn’t see anyone. Then he quickly slid into the driver’s seat and grabbed the shift lever. For a second he wondered if the other men were still alive, but only for a second. He fumbled with the shifter and finally found reverse. As he looked in the outside rearview mirror he saw Junior’s face. He slammed the gas to the floor and ducked low in the seat. The powerful rig lunged backward roughly and the steering wheel spun hard to the left. The cab slammed into the trailer and jack-knifed. The entire rig shuddered under the force and the wheels spun rapidly spewing dust and rocks everywhere. Only then did he let off the gas and the engine choked down. The sudden silence was unnerving. Now what was he going to do?