Elysium dreams, p.1
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Elysium Dreams
Elysium Dreams

  Hadena James

  Copyright

  All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without prior written permission of the author.

  This book is a work of fiction. Any names, places, characters, and incidents are a product of the author’s imagination and are purely fictitious. Any resemblances to any persons, living or dead, are completely coincidental.

  Hadena James

  Copyright © 2013 Hadena James

  All Rights Reserved

  Prologue

  One

  Two

  Three

  Four

  Tedium

  Five

  Six

  Seven

  Eight

  Prey

  Nine

  Ten

  Eleven

  Twelve

  Indecision

  Thirteen

  Fourteen

  Fifteen

  Sixteen

  Interrupted

  Seventeen

  Eighteen

  Nineteen

  Twenty

  Healing

  Twenty-One

  Twenty-Two

  Twenty-Three

  Twenty-Four

  Endings

  Twenty-Five

  Twenty-Six

  Epilogue

  Mercurial Dreams Preview

  About the Author

  Also By Hadena James

  Acknowledgments

  I have to give my mother the first acknowledgment, without her, none of my writings would ever see the light of day.

  My best friend, Beth, who is also my first content editor and helps me keep some humor, even when the writing is at its darkest.

  Then there is my life partner, Jason, who supports my writing even though he doesn’t share my passion for the written word and often goes to bed without me so that I can work.

  I need to give huge kudos to Kelly Nichols with EZ Book Covers for another wonderful cover that turns my thoughts into a visual feast to cloak my words.

  Finally, my readers who keep Aislinn Cain and her merry band of misfits going.

  Prologue

  He pulled the knife from the flame. The blade was blackened by soot and had a ghastly hellish glow from the heat. He paused a few seconds to admire it. He always did. It was his most prized possession. He’d earned it.

  His other prize lay on the ground. Her feet were bound at the ankles. Wrists bound behind her back and a cloth shoved into her mouth with duct tape over her lips. She was going to scream. They always did. He could appreciate the muffled noises she would make.

  Slowly, he walked towards her. The glow of the knife fading with each step he took. He picked up the rope that bound her ankles. Her perfect, smooth, manicured feet were in front of him. This was the starting point.

  With the care a mother takes washing a newborn, he slid the knife into her skin. Her cries, muffled by the cloth and tape, filled him with a feeling of euphoria. It was a high that very few people could understand.

  The knife moved easily through her skin. It seared the vessels, letting almost no blood seep from the wound. It took only a few minutes to completely remove the skin from the bottom of the first foot. He took a propane torch and reheated the knife.

  When he feared it would start to melt, he turned the torch off. Just as gently, he slid the knife into the skin of her other foot. This time the cries were louder, despite the gag. Tears flowed down her cheeks.

  He was an expert at this. A few gentle, but solid movements and the skin on the bottom of the other foot came off. He turned the torch back on.

  It wasn’t the knife that got the torch this time. He placed it just inches from the top of her feet, the flame nearly touching them. The skin around the toes almost instantly began to blister. Her screams intensified. He knew from experience she was on the verge of passing out.

  He turned the torch off. He didn’t need the knife for this part. He took hold of a flap of skin that had crisped up under the heat and pulled. It peeled easily, revealing muscles, tendon and ligaments.

  The peeling did it. Her cries stopped, her head lolled to the side. He could take a break now. He sat down on the ground next to her and lit a cigar. He waited. As the ash grew longer, he flicked it at her.

  After smoking the cigar, he got back up. His break was over. He attached a carabineer’s hook to the rope that held her feet. The other end lay on the ground at his feet. It was already looped over the branch of the tree.

  With one swift motion, he hoisted her up. Her hair brushed the ground. He attached the free end of the rope to a stake in the ground. The torch was turned back on.

  The knife was reinserted into the flame. This was the part that took the most skill. He started just below the rope around her feet. The knife entered the skin at an angle, the side laying against the rope. He moved it downwards, steady and even in pressure and speed. If he went too fast or the pressure became uneven, it would mess it up.

  Tenderly, he held the skin as it detached from her leg. He managed to get all the way to the knee before having to take it off. He put the skin on the ground and began again. This time on the back of the leg.

  For several hours, he worked carefully. Moving with precision, he meticulously removed her skin. Sometime during removing it from her torso, she had died. He had watched the moment; felt he had seen her soul flee from her mangled corpse.

  She had been fun. Gently, he picked up the discarded skin. He went through it like a child carefully unwrapping a Christmas present.

  Each piece was laid out on the ground, around her hanging corpse. Each piece was delicately selected to create a symbol on the ground, his symbol, a bow and arrow.

  When it was done, he snapped a quick picture with his iPhone. The sun was beginning to come up. He left the torch next to the stake, cleaned his knife with a bottle of peroxide he had brought with him and sheathed it into its holster. He took a bottle out of his pack and dumped it on the body. His work for the night was done. It was time for him to sleep.

  He hiked out of the woods, wondering how long it would take for her to be found. Two days, maybe three. The last had been found the afternoon he had finished his masterpiece. This time, the location was more remote.

  It took him close to thirty minutes to follow the path out of the trees. His truck was parked a little way down the road, hidden behind a large, abandoned pump house. He found his truck keys and unlocked the doors.

  The engine caught and the truck purred to life. He smiled and took a drink of water. The sun was now racing up the sky, morning was upon him. He drove off.

  As he exited the park, a car pulled in. He smiled wider. He’d been wrong, she’d be found today, probably within the next hour. Good, he could begin looking for a new one.

  One

  Someone was flipping on the light in my bedroom. I knew this was a bad sign considering I lived alone. However, living in the Federal Guard Neighborhood, it meant that it was someone with a key to my house.

  Since we had returned less than two days ago from tracking down our most recent serial killer, I was hoping the intrusion in the middle of the night was because my house was on fire. We had tracked down twelve serial killers in the time I had been a member of the Serial Crimes Tracking Unit with the US Marshals.

  Our last case had taken us almost two weeks. He had been elusive to say the least, coming out only to kill a few women on random nights of horror. He’d been bold, starting the first night with four women, all shot in the head. After that, he had scal
ed back to only two or three a night. He had claimed fifty-three women in all before receiving his own head wound.

  Frankly, I had been looking forward to a few weeks of rest and recuperation. I blearily opened my eyes. The cool soothing green walls greeted me first, Lucas McMichaels greeted me second. I groaned.

  “Come on, we’ve got another and it’s a priority. The press has latched onto him and is calling him ‘The Flesh Hunter’. He picks a new victim the day his old victim is found. In three months, he’s claimed forty-one victims. The locals were keeping it quiet until a journalist found the most recent body while taking a hike in a local wooded park.”

  “Great,” I got out of bed and looked around the room.

  “What?” Lucas asked.

  “I haven’t repacked my travel bag. Where are we going?”

  “Alaska.”

  “It’s March. I don’t want to go to Alaska.”

  “Doesn’t matter, we’re going, pack some sweaters and hoodies.” Lucas left my room.

  It took me fifteen minutes to pack my bags and toss on some warm clothing. It wasn’t exactly warm in Missouri. Alaska was going to be a hell of a lot colder.

  Xavier, Michael and Gabriel were in my living room. I was glad it was Lucas who had come up and woken me. Crawling into bed the previous evening, I had grabbed the two cleanest articles of sleepwear. I could find; a black lacy
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