Silent Killer [A Robert Sable Mystery]
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by Sean E. Thomas
Description: Tlingit Alaska State Trooper Robert Sable investigates a serial killer who uses stealth and carbon monoxide to kill alumni from the Chugach High School class of 2000 and their families. So far, all the deaths have been ruled accidental. It appears the killer is exacting revenge for bullying and abuse in high school. The killer leaves minimal evidence, only a tiny smiley face with the number 2000. Since Sable's wife is a 2000 graduate, she may be next on the killer's list. Sable and his team must catch the killer before he strikes again.
eBook Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press, 2011
eBookwise Release Date: October 2011
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [296 KB]
Reading time: 173-243 min.
Darkness surrounded the man in the engine compartment. His flashlight cast a thin beam of light, barely illuminating his meticulous work. No light escaped the engine's hatch cover. In spite of the pain in his back and muscles straining in his legs as he hunched over, he whistled. He adjusted the carburetion on the boat's generator system. He cut into the steel exhaust pipe, grinding the metal paper-thin. Along its length he made several jagged holes and smoothed them out with very fine emery cloth.
Occasionally, he stopped and listened to the waves gently lapping against the hull to see if anyone was walking the docks. Cautiously, he opened the bottle of hydrochloric acid and dipped the cotton-tipped swabs into the solution, trying not to spill a drop. He ran it across the edges and around the holes he had made. He wiped the acid away with a wet rag. The acid burned and pitted the steel, giving it an almost authentic corroded appearance. He added the final touch. Opening another bottle, ferric oxide, he dipped a brush into the reddish-brown powder. He dusted the holes. In a couple days, no one would know he had been here. He listened again, then started a hand-held vacuum. Once he was satisfied the job was finished, he took a deep breath of the dank oil- and diesel-scented air and smiled. He checked around the area to ensure he'd left no trace. He was almost as silent and invisible as the carbon monoxide he employed to kill his enemies. He worked hard not to leave any trace, but felt compelled to sign his artwork. He imagined himself as Leonardo da Vinci signing his masterpiece, the Mona Lisa, though he prayed no one would ever see his mark. He moved to the back of the pipe and with a fine carbon steel stylus, drew a small smiley face, and placed the number two thousand next to it. It had taken him several years to get his revenge. Memories of high school flooded his mind--the constant name calling--queer, fag and worse, taunting, and bullying. He reported the incidents to the teachers and to the principal. That only led to more animosity and hate sent his way. He fought each day for his survival, but the bullies would never fight fair. When he stumbled and fell, they kicked him unmercifully. He'd suffered broken ribs, arms, and fingers. In the cafeteria, two of the bullies removed his pants in front of the rest of the students.
Bomb threats had been called in on his locker. Drugs and weapons had been planted on him. The reason it wasn't part of his permanent record was the principal believed him. Almost every night, the bullies made threatening calls to his house. His family got caller ID and found the caller's number blocked. Only after calling the police in to set up a phone tap, did the harassment stop. The bullies made his life a living hell.
He was the outcast, a label he later adopted as his alter ego. He'd been born with a cleft palate, which had brought difficulty in grade school, but at age sixteen, he had been further disfigured in an auto accident. His best friend's parents and two of his best friends had died in that accident. The police and the paramedics misidentified him when they took him to the hospital. Wanting to disassociate himself from his past, he assumed the identity of one of his dead friends from the crash. Not even his parents knew he was alive. Lawsuits from the auto accident had made him wealthy, very wealthy. They had buried his friend in his stead. Before he went to college, Outcast used the money to pay for several plastic surgeries. This ensured that his former classmates wouldn't recognize him. While at college, with the stress of bullying gone, he excelled. He took IQ tests that showed his intelligence quotient off the charts and he joined Mensa. He worked hard, going to two colleges at once, and in three years, graduated with honors in chemistry, physics, mathematics, and accounting with a minor in criminology. While playing the stock market, Outcast turned his wealth into multimillions. Yet, the money meant nothing because it didn't ease the pain. The scars of abuse had burned deep into his psyche. Psychiatrists and counselors couldn't help. Revenge, he thought, would even the score and bring him peace. He crafted his plan. First he destroyed several of his classmates financially. The taste of victory had been bittersweet and hollow.
The year he graduated he found the solution on page six of the Anchorage Tribune, "Unexplained Deaths on Lake Mead." Early on, he had suspected the boating deaths were from carbon monoxide poisoning. Long before the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health convened a task force to examine the deaths, Outcast planned his revenge. Over the course of several years, he'd killed twenty-three members of his graduating class and their families. Now, the evil spawn's offspring would never inflict pain on anyone else. He took great satisfaction that all the murders had been ruled accidental. He pulled out his notebook, putting a check mark by another name on the list and chuckled to himself. When they died, Outcast would cross the name off the list. Another down and many more to go.
If the sabotage to this didn't work, he'd target their home's furnace. If that didn't work, Outcast would visit his target's house and drill a small hole in the bedroom wall at floor level. Then he'd slip in a tube in the hole as he'd done many times before. A mechanical device switched on a tank of carbon monoxide when the owners turned on the furnace. Outcast had messed up only once, early in his crusade. He had taken out one of the tormentors with solid carbon dioxide. Once the ice turned to gas, it left no trace. Unfortunately, the pink flush to the dead student's face and levels of the gas in the victim's blood led the police to investigate the death as a homicide. Luckily, Outcast had planned ahead and bought the solid carbon dioxide in another state using a false identification.