Crime Drama Romance

People are fools. 

This was a thought he'd held on to since he was a boy, and it'd held true for his entire life till that point.

Even as Rayner drove on the roads of his favorite mountain range, he could only think back to the sorts who proved it to him. 

Those sorts of people he couldn’t even be angry at.

The kinda idiots that got themselves lost in his favorite places.

It wasn’t as if he cared for any particular demographic, he liked to hurt them more if they were pretty, more so if they were tame. 

But he was always one for opportunity.

That mighta been how he managed his body count.

Serial killers without a known type are harder to catch, as far as he’d heard.

Though considering how high the body counts were for easier cases, he had his reservations. 

It coulda been how he killed, while he wasn’t exactly messy, he didn’t try to be fancy with his targets. 

He’d done it before, long drawn moments with strangers in discrete abandoned places, but when all was said and done he was careful.

That and he was a fairly big guy, he was a hard man to escape.

Made his marks all the more foolish for trusting him.

It wasn’t all that late when he happened upon his next mark, a young man, inching to it really, with a lovely mop of hair just by the side of the road.

“Hello sir, I kinda sprained my ankle. Could you drive me to a gas station or something?” the kid asked softly, he looked embarrassed by the entire situation.

Rayner liked that, so he opened his passenger door for him. The kid was asking after all. 

He watched as the kid arranged himself on the passenger side, careful to buckle himself in, the kid seemed a mite more cautious now considering his ankle.

Rayner started after that, taking his merry time since the kid wasn’t worrying directions.

"So, what had you so far out?", Rayner asked with a sideways glance.

The kid had been looking out the window, contemplating something, before glancing over to him.

"Oh nothing much, just the scenery." The boy said, "is it alright if I do some writing here?"

"I don't exactly have a charging set up." Rayner said, still playing the Samaritan.

The kid took out a small journal, "sorry to disappoint, I'm a bit old school." He said trying to look cool.

He kinda did if Rayner were at all honest.

Rayner could've driven with his eyes closed, but he still only looked over occasionally, seeing the kid scribble away on a relatively clean page in his book.

"So, what do you like to write about?", 


"Oh, what kinda bodies?", He asked innocuously.

"anybody, anything."

"Oh." he said, hoping for something more specific. It was well enough that the kid was mostly quiet after that. 

Rayner wasn’t so over curious of this next body, couldn’t be that clever this far out. 

Didn’t stop him from being a bit disappointed with the answer. 

What they were rather than the state they were in.

He was still a bit mesmerized with the kid, scratching away on a half empty journal he was never gonna fill.

He wondered, like any man otta, how the kid managed to see anything past his fringe.

But it seemed weird to impose on something like that, that mop would be safe enough to cut when the kid was dead, if he was really in the mood for a trophy.

Beyond that, it was the kinda night he wanted to take slowly. 

The kid was marked for it

Rayner liked to take it slow sometimes, “I still gotta wonder what got you out so late?”

“I thought I told you? Oh, whatever,” The kid whispered, before asking, “is it alright to say I’ve got terrible friends?”

“Well hey, we’ve all been in bad crowds before.” Rayner stated, he liked getting 'em out of the shell before the fun.

“Yeah,” Rayner couldn’t see where the kid was looking, “I don’t think I caught your name.”

“No, you didn’t. Be fair I didn’t catch yours either.”

“Ah, I’m Calum.”

“Let me guess, your mom had a thing for soap operas?”

“No, saints actually,” the kid corrected with a laugh, “my mom had a thing for cryptids.”

Rayner paused at the non sequitur, thinking over what to say. 

He could be honest, tell the kid his name, hear that begging catch on his throat later. Or he could lie, make him guess.

“It won’t matter if I don’t know your real name, you know.” the kid said, catching his apprehension. 

Rayner stopped to think about where they were, where the closest safehouse was, before saying, “no, I was just surprised. I’m Rayner Kelly.” because he liked the kid’s voice.

The Kid was quiet after that, the only noise from the passenger side being the press of pencil to paper.

The sound of a zipper.

Then as if struck by something, he felt a sharp presence through his leg, reacting with a hit to the face which knocked the kid out.

Without much thought as to the proper thing to do, Rayner pulled the knife out.

Rayner felt his own hot blood flow from his thigh, and all he could think was, the little maniac stabbed me.

He looked down at his leg, realizing that the kid with all the luck, nicked something proper.

He stole the kids belt, since he was still out, and made a tourniquet.

Frazzled by the entire ordeal, he decided to push the kid out the passenger side, and step it to the nearest hospital. 

A night held up in the emergency room, was an interesting addition to his night, just as the injury to his femoral artery was. 

It was a lucky break not dying from it, but the kid was still out there.

He’d done something foolish, and while Rayner wasn’t especially scared of getting caught, he didn’t like being blindsided like that.

It would be a while after that, before he'd think of it again. 

When he cleaned out his car. 

Rayner, having killed on the go before, knew that anything could drop from a body, licences, gum, ID's, and phones were some of the most incriminating. 

So he really couldn't afford to keep a dirty car.

That's when he found the journal. 

The last thing the kid dropped before trying to get the drop on him.

It was a small leather bound notebook, and while at once familiar in the light of day, he could see the character of its use. 

Kid was careful closing it before pulling that nonsense, and while his car had been a mess for a while the pages were mostly clean.

He flipped through, looking for ID's that might incriminate, and when he couldn't find any, he thought to throw it away.

Even without something concrete, the book was filled with the kids writings, and being by hand his composition and identity could be ascertained.

It was the kinda circumstantial evidence detectives and jury's ate up.

With the car no longer in disarray, he could throw it out, forget about the one night where the tables almost turned.

All together again, he thought of the journal, of his hands and head.

This was all he was gonna have of that, and for once amongst the dark thoughts and bad memories, he wanted to keep it.

It was only then did he read it, page upon page of poetry. And though it was the simplest thing it could be he was infatuated with it.

The first page dated a decade before,

I am beauty, I am soft

A crooked rumble to strange human love

She wonders fondly, where are you dear?

While I am dry, and rotting here

I am claws, I am fear

A hissing mess to his cruel intent

I am flesh, I am bones

The kid was killing cats back then, writing poetry about it even. 

Rayner was taken back to his first experiments, neighborhood pets and the like he’d dispatched out of curiosity.

Though the kid never wrote his age, or full name in any of them, he could tell that it was quite a bit more than poetry.

It was something he’d never thought to do, write about them, with this intense distance.

Some were short and recent, 

I am small, I am buzzing

My life is sweet, my stripes are fuzzy

Inside I’m soft, my stinger’s not

Non are things, the dead can flaunt

Before he knew it, he felt familiar with the kid, like he was more than a liability.

As close as a journal scratched half way through, it really was “anything, anybody” to him.

I am lovely, I am strong

My tendons were cut, my fat is gone

Lost beneath two or three feet

There are no feelings the dead get to keep

Rayner thinks reading through Calum’s Poetry book, about that night, and how it went.

Every little lie that he didn’t bother telling, how ready he was after saying his name.

He wonders, what’ll I do when I’m on the Prowl again?

Hungry for new pretty faces.

How long before he thinks about the kid as just a liability again, and not the one that got away.

July 07, 2021 15:13

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Kit Gordon
03:28 Aug 03, 2021

You nailed what a short story is on this one.


Kathleen `Woods
05:19 Aug 03, 2021

That's the funny part, it's actually in my top 5 longest entries currently! Though it does have the cleanest throughline out of all of them. thanks for reading!


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
14:16 Jul 19, 2021

Wow, this was really good! You did a great job of building up the suspense and I really didn't see that plot twist coming. All I could think when he got into the car was 'nooo run away'. Great job overall!


Kathleen `Woods
21:48 Jul 20, 2021

Thanks! I was hoping for a bit of a shock there.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Lily Rama
00:53 Jul 16, 2021

Your story is AWESOME! So dark :) And the poetry you wrote was so good, you had me till the last word. Will you check out my latest story? I would really appreciate your feedback!


Kathleen `Woods
06:07 Jul 16, 2021

Thanks! I was trying to leave implications about Calum's methods through his work.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Eve Y
15:34 Jul 15, 2021

The plot twist was amazing! The story kept me hooked till the very last sentence, and even then, I wanted to read more. Great job!


Kathleen `Woods
21:40 Jul 15, 2021

Thanks, I didn't realize how extra Rayner ended up, but once you bring up "long drawn moments with strangers" you kinda have to go all in.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Ruth Smith
04:32 Jul 09, 2021

Very interesting story. You did a great job of character building with both of the killers! Excellent work!


Kathleen `Woods
09:15 Jul 09, 2021

Thanks, I'm kinda obsessed with the dynamic now. I'm probably gonna use these fools again just for that. :)


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Jessica Chaos
15:51 Jul 07, 2021

Very nice pacing!!


Kathleen `Woods
16:57 Jul 07, 2021

Thanks, I'm glad the pieces fit well!


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in the Reedsy Book Editor. 100% free.