Dusty Shane is a high school senior and a serial killer. He has already murdered three young women, and has more planned. Yet Dusty does not want to hurt anybody. There is something inside him that compels him to kill.
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Christopher Pike is the pseudonym of Kevin McFadden. He was born in New York, but grew up in Los Angeles, where he lives to this day. Prior to becoming a writer he worked in a factory, painted houses and programmed computers. His hobbies include astronomy, meditating, running and making sure his books are prominently displayed in his local bookshop! As well as being a bestselling teen horror and thriller writer, he is also the author of numerous titles for adults. Other well-known works include: The Last Vampire series and the Remember Me series.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
The mind of a killer is an empty thing.
The strings of a puppet are filled with mischief.
Imagine a mind, then, that when a string is pulled somebody will die -- an innocent asleep in her bed. Imagine and then quickly forget, lest the impulse pluck deep and make you realize that we are all puppets in a show without rules.
But maybe that is not true.
It doesn't matter. It seems true.
Dusty Shame did not play by any rules. He had killed twice in his life and he was going to kill again. But he didn't enjoy taking human life. He wasn't a psychopath in the traditional sense of the word. He did not dream of blood and screams and feel cold sweat break out over his limbs and experience a rush of sexual satisfaction. He didn't even dislike most people, never mind hate them. No one had ever done anything particularly wrong to him, and until he started to kill, he had never thought of hurting anyone.
Yet tonight would be murder number three.
Three -- the one that was supposed to charm.
But where was the charm for poor Dusty?
Where was the reason?
The answer was so simple it couldn't be the final answer. Yet it must be put down. Dusty killed so he could rest. It was only when he forever closed the eyes of another that he could close his own eyes and sleep without the dreams and the voice telling him it was time to awaken and continue with the pain.
Of course, such a reason must have meant Dusty was crazy. People who heard voices were invariably insane, experts would say. But few experts had ever been inside a mind the equal of Dusty's. Had they entered, they would have realized that insanity was as mysterious as reason, and that the two were often difficult to separate.
Dusty may have been crazy, but he was also a nice young man.
He was eighteen years old, a senior in high school, six weeks shy of graduation. His grade point average was three point six, and he was taking chemistry, calculus, computer science, and German. He was on his way to college, that is if he didn't make a quick stop at the electric chair first.
He was a handsome young man. His hair was light brown, soft and fine like that of an angel, his eyes green as grass in evening twilight. He was five ten, fit and muscular, but plagued by repeated heartburn. He had a tendency, when in social situations, to be jerky in his movements. But when he was alone, especially when he killed, he moved smoothly and gracefully as a dancer. Always, though, he was quiet. Had he been more talkative, he certainly could have had plenty of dates. And maybe if he had spoken to more girls and listened to their voices instead of the one his head, he wouldn't have become a murderer.
Maybe, maybe not.
Dusty's first two victims had been girls.
It was late Monday night. Dusty drove through the dark California streets of his hometown, Chino -- a suburb in San Bernadino County, which adjoined both Los Angeles and Orange counties. He was headed toward his next victim's house. Years ago Chino had been a place to tie a horse in the backyard, but now there were housing developments everywhere. The town had been home for Dusty all his life. He couldn't say he liked the place, though, but that may have been because his had been a sad life.
His next victim was Nancy Bardella and she lived only two miles from him. He knew Nancy from school, unlike the other two he had killed, whom he knew only via the modem lines of a national computer network -- Einstein. Nancy was in his chemistry lab and class -- she sat two rows in front of him, on the right, in class. He had spoken to her a few times, although never at length. She was a pretty girl with long brown hair and dimples that showed when she laughed, which she did often.
Dusty knew from eavesdropping on her conversations that her parents were away for a few days. He had chosen to kill her, instead of another girl, largely because of this fact. Also, Nancy was a sweet girl and seldom had an unkind word to say about anybody. It was important to Dusty that each of his victims be as innocent as possible. In reality, Dusty liked Nancy.
The late April night was warm -- the month of May and another southern California summer were around the corner -- and the streets all but deserted. Dusty liked the late-night hours best, when the hum of the city was at its gentlest. He was particularly sensitive to crowds and crowd noise; it was as if the mental static of many minds wore on the, delicate centers of his brain. Often, just visiting a mall exhausted him. When he did sleep, which he seldom did, it was usually in the daytime, after school.
But he knew tonight, what was left of it, he would sleep well, if he could just kill Nancy and get rid of her body without being caught. Dusty may have loathed what he did, but he didn't want to go to jail. He felt if they locked him up, the voice would go on tormenting him endlessly, and he wouldn't be able to do anything to silence it. That was his greatest fear, although he had others.
Nancy lived at the end of a cul-de-sac in one of Chino's new housing tracts. Dusty pulled onto her street and cut the engine, allowing the car to coast into Nancy's empty driveway. He disliked bringing his car so close, but it was necessary when it came time to carry the body out. He never left a body behind, the voice was strict about that, and for that reason the parents of his first two victims were still looking for their daughters. He occasionally saw posters advertising rewards for information about their disappearances. He knew that the parents would be searching for their children for a long time.
Nancy had lived in southern California all her life. Dusty knew that her father worked as an engineer at Hughes Aircraft, and that her mother took care of preschoolers. Nancy was an only child. Her best friend was Sheila Hardholt, who was Dusty's lab partner in chemistry. Dusty liked Sheila as well.
The cul-de-sac was well lit, which bothered him. All the new housing tracts in Chino were loaded with lights. The house was also visible from many surrounding houses. If someone were to peek through a window as he was carrying out the body, he would be in serious trouble. But he knew his window of vulnerability was brief -- maybe a minute at best, only the actual time when he had the body in his hands. If a neighbor were to see him now, sitting in his car, it was doubtful he would sound an alarm. It would be hard to trace his car just from a glance. Red Ford Escorts were a dime a dozen in the L.A. basin. Plus he had smeared his license plate with mud.
Dusty sat in his car a moment, studying the house. There were two stories -- Nancy's bedroom was probably on the second. Although most of the houses in the neighborhood had yet to have yards installed, Nancy's parents had spent big bucks on landscaping. The lawn was made up of thick fescu grass, common to the area. Recently planted shrubs hugged the clean orange stucco walls. More important than these details were the six-foot-high walls and the accompanying gates, which would surely be locked. More than likely, he would have to take the WY out the front door, something he had not done before.
The walls presented no problem for him. He could climb over them. Sitting in the car, he decided to do just that and then try to find an open window in the back. In his pocket he carried a lock-pick kit. But he had not grown up playing with locks, and his skill at outwitting dead bolt locks was minimal at best. He also had duct tape in his pocket, and knew he could tape a window and break it without making much noise. He did that the night he had visited Stacy Domino's house, the first time he had killed.
His other tools were few: a ball peen hammer, two large heavy-duty green garbage bags, and a white towel. He used the hammer to kill; the narrow head of the ball peen hammer was a more lethal weapon than a regular hammer. The bags were for the body -- one for the top half, the other for the bottom. The towel was his special piece of paraphernalia. Just before striking the death blow, usually to the delicate temple area at the side of the skull, he would throw the towel over the girl's head. He made every effort to keep any blood from spilling, leaving the police and the parents with the idea -- the possibility at least -- that their daughter had merely run away or been kidnapped. But neither police nor parents would entertain the latter idea long because no ransom note would be forthcoming.
Yet these possibilities were important to satisfy the voice. They greatly heightened the torment of his acts.
On his hands he wore leather gloves. Always.
Dusty picked up the hammer, the garbage bags, and the towel, and stuffed them into a knapsack that fit over his shoulder. After turning off the overhead light, he silently opened the car door and stepped onto the concrete driveway. He closed the door, but did not shut it completely. He preferred, when he was done, to place the body in the trunk, but if he felt rushed he could set in the passenger seat. The seats, like the trunk, 'were covered with clear plastic he had obtained from a garbage bin behind a cleaners. He went to great lengths to prevent staining his car with blood.
He approached the house on the right side, opposite the porch walkway, and was over the brick wall in a moment. The backyard did not please him. Two other houses, elevated slightly above Nancy's, had unobstructed views into her yard. He had to pause to reassure himself that it was late, and that the two other houses looked as asleep as empty buildings.
A quick scan of Nancy's back windows showed him one that was half open. The sight brought him a measure of relief, although his muscles remained taunt and his breathing rapid and uneven. In his lock-pick kit was a small screwdriver. He took it out and slipped it under the bottom edge of the window screen, bending the metal slowly upward. The screen popped free. He set it on the ground and gently eased up the window. A moment later he was able to step inside with a long stretch of his legs.
He was in the living room. The furniture, glimpsed in stabs of yellow streetlight, was new, and the faint smell of fresh paint hung in the air. He stood still for several seconds and forced himself to take long deep breaths. His heartbeat was the sound of toppling stones. He had to convince himself that the beating was not reverberating off the walls, echoing up the stairs to Nancy's sleeping ears.
He started up the stairs, not even bothering to check the downstairs rooms. He knew Nancy was up there; he could sense her, but not with his ears or eyes. He could feel her life as clearly as he would feel that life pass through him as he brought it to an end. Her soul would pass through him, he knew, with the blow to the brain, and in that instant something inside him would sigh, and he would have peace, if only for a little while. At least it had been that way before.
It was too easy, too perfect. All three of the bedroom doors on the second floor lay open. Nancy's was the small room on the right, her soft rhythmic breathing drifting into the narrow hallway like a child's song floating on a spring breeze. Nancy, awake had always impressed Dusty as a kind person, but in sleep, even before he saw her, she touched him in a way only a saint could. She was innocence; he could almost hear the angels singing in her dreams. Strangely, this quality, this goodness, didn't make it harder for him to kill her, but easier. Or maybe it was not so strange because Dusty was in many ways like his nickname, Dust, and viewed everything from the ground level, where the insects that crawled through the mud were the best friends of the flowers that scented the air with their perfume.
Dusty moved to the open doorway and stood looking down on Nancy. She lay on her back, dressed in an oversize T-shirt, white panties, a sheet draped loosely over her tan legs. Her brown hair spread across her pillow, so perfect, like fabric woven of silk threads. Her right elbow was cocked at a sharp angle, her right hand pressed to her chin as if she were deep in thought. Her other arm hung over the side of the bed, the hand almost touching the floor, completely unafraid of the bogeyman that might lurk under the box springs. But of course she was not scared, Dusty thought, angels were watching over her.
So was something else.
As old as the angels.
Dusty removed the towel and hammer from his knapsack.
He wanted it to be quick. He didn't want her to suffer. Still, the thought of the blood plagued him, the evidence of the struggle it would leave. He had to get the towel in position without waking her. He had been able to do that with his second victim because she had been an extremely heavy sleeper. He knew that because of her loud snoring. But he did not believe Nancy would be so easy. He considered the possibilities for several seconds before coming up with a plan.
He would alter the point where he usually struck. He would not hit Nancy on the temple, but directly on the forehead. He would toss the towel over her face and strike an instant later. The first blow might not kill her -- the skull was thick in front -- but it would stun, and there would be time for others. He knew, though, even as he moved closer to the bed, that timing was critical. If he did not kill her quickly, she would scream, and both her bedroom windows were wide open. He did not want her to scream; he did not want her to know that she was about to die.
In his left hand was his towel, in his right the hammer. He stepped within a foot of the bed and felt cold sweat drip down his arms. Yet suddenly he could no longer hear his heartbeat, his breathing even, only the sound of her breathing, her life, her identity. Even though Dusty believed her soul would survive his attack, he did not think her personality would. He believed, in heaven, no soul could remember having been on Earth. He believed that it would be impossible to enjoy true peace with such memories, especially with such memories as he had. Nancy would be Nancy for only a second more.
Dusty tossed the towel onto her face.
It landed smoothly, a tissue drifting over a reclining doll.
Dusty raised his hammer to strike.
Just then Nancy sat up. He would have said she bolted upright; she caught him so completely by surprise. Yet she moved so easily, so without fear, that it seemed as if her own mother had awakened her. The towel fell from her face onto her lap. Her eyes popped open and she looked at him. Her expression wasn't one of fright or surprise, although she was only partially awake. There wasn't a hint of recognition in her expression. Her voice came out like that of a small yawning child.
"Hello," she said.
Dusty struck with his hammer. Because he meant to hit her as she lay flat on her back, his blow landed at an odd angle. The hammer smashed her forehead, between the eyebrows, but the bulk of the force of the blow was directed lower. He ended up crushing the bridge of her nose. He actually heard the faint sound of shattering cartilage. Nancy's head dropped forward as she was hit, although, remarkably, her eyes remained open. He could tell by her eyelashes. Blood dripped from her nose onto his towel, her T-shirt. Dusty didn't know if her open eyes signaled consciousness; he doubted it. But he wasn't taking any chances. He raised the hammer again and struck a crushing blow to the top of her skull. This time the sound was loud, as the strong bone...
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Descrizione libro Hodder Children's Books, 1994. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Codice libro della libreria P110340616423
Descrizione libro Hodder Children's Books, 1994. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. book. Codice libro della libreria 340616423
Descrizione libro Hodder Children's Books, 1994. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. book. Codice libro della libreria 0340616423