Sign up for Mark's Reader Newsletter and receive a free copy of The Militiaman of Garthset! Free Copy of The Militiaman of Garthset!

Clean Up

lakeKevin watched the car sink below the surface in the predawn light. The orange glow on the horizon promised a beautiful day in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. After a couple of minutes, a mass of bubbles on the surface was the only clue to where her car rested on the bottom, never to be seen again. At least he hoped. He was actually a little surprised that none of the cars he had driven into lakes and rivers over the years had ever been found. Maybe one day, but by then any evidence of him should be long gone.

Satisfied with the disposal of the car, he picked up one of the paper bags containing the ashes and remaining bones from the campfire and flung it into the water. Once the water soaked through the paper, the ashes would float away and the bones would scatter along the bottom of the lake. Even if someone found one, they probably wouldn’t recognize it as a human bone, unless it was a doctor or something. Small chance of that happening anyway.

He threw the second paper bag in a different direction. He didn’t want all the remains piling up together on the off chance someone found a bone or something. The bag arced gracefully through the air and landed with a splash. The rocks he had placed in the bottom of the bag ensured a quick sinking. The ever expanding circle of ripples was the only indication that the bag had ever existed.

He held up the last bag, the one holding the smashed pieces of Tabitha Bowen’s skull, contemplating the last twelve hours. This too was part of his ritual, savoring the final moments with his latest catch while he replayed last night’s adventure in his mind. After this, only his pictures would remain to remember her by.

Sighing, Kevin hurled the bag into the air. As he watched, the bottom of the bag ripped open, softened by water on the shore where it had been sitting. The rocks, pieces of skull, and teeth exploded in a cloud of ashes. Hundreds of tiny splashes marked where the shrapnel landed. The cloud of ash floated down the lake in the light morning breeze as it settled toward the water. Well, that’s one way to scatter the remains.

All that was left to do was to get rid of the tools. After his first kill he had put all the tools in the trunk of the car, along with the body, before sinking it. Afterward, he had realized that was a mistake. No reason to leave everything packed together in a nice little forensics package. In those days he hadn’t burned the body, relying on the fish and crayfish to take care of the body for him. He threw the small sledgehammer in one direction, the handsaw in another direction, and the knife in another.

The work done, Kevin stood and watched the ripples on the lake’s surface fade away. The burning light of the rising sun lit up the bottoms of the wispy clouds that were, in turn, reflected on the glass surface of the lake. Early morning birds chirped in the trees around him. In the distance geese honked as they took flight for their morning feeding. To his left the gulping croak of a bullfrog.

He stood by the side of the lake until the sun broke the horizon, its light burning through the light morning fog and bouncing off the mirrored surface in an explosion of glory. It was time to go. Kevin shouldered his pack and tightened the straps. One final look at the pristine vista, then he turned and started his three-hour hike back to Whelan Crossing.

– Excerpt from Roadside Stalker by K. Elliot Simmons