Lucky Number 7 (Full length)

Lucky Number 7 (Full length)

A Story by Voice

Lucky Number 7 (Full length version)

Darkness coveted the barren woods and left an ominous chill hanging in the air above Sonny’s head. He could hear the blood hounds howling in the distance, giving heed that they were on his trail. They had taken down many before him, but he was no ordinary fugitive. No, he was much smarter. He was a solitary hunter, who had been baffling the minds of man for more than a decade now. If he could outwit the intellect of his fellow pears, he would not allow a mutt to be his downfall.  Still, eluding the keen nose of these beasts wouldn’t be an easy challenge, but it was the only way to lure her into his trap. She was his true soul mate, and she alone held the knowledge and ability to find him. While there were countless police and FBI agents scouring the forest for him, they were the only two with such an intimate connection to this place. 

It wasn’t far from here where they had had their first encounter. She believed that she could take him down then too. His every thought had been centered on her since the moment she entered his life. Her powerful aura was enough to sustain him on the brink of breaking down, something he couldn’t afford. It was ironic that they were being reunited under similar circumstances. He looked over at the girl who ran next to him; the same blank stare was on her face that she had worn for the past six years. “She is coming for you my dear, but she can’t save you anymore than she can save herself. You both will be mine soon enough.” He grinned at the thought. Her image flashed in front of his eyes. A young vibrant woman that he had broke. Long locks of blond stretched over her face and breasts. Her hazel eyes which had been so strong were now filled with the same terror he in stowed in all his victims. Once again she was only finger length away from him. It felt like it had been an eternity, yet he could still smell her sweet perfume and taste her salty sweat and tears on his lips as he lapped it off of her butter milk skin. Delicious, he thought to himself. “I’m waiting for you detective Holly. Are you ready to continue our game?”

 

Rifling through the various documents on her desk, detective Holly Shytes’s clumsiness took a turn for the worse, and she knocked her blue coffee mug into her lap. It spilled its mud like substance all over her black Jacket and trickled down her leg onto the floor. “S**t,” she mumbled as she quickly rose to retrieve some towels. She threw the wet jacket at her computer chair which promptly rolled back and gave her room to kneel down and soak up the coffee. Though it was an inconvenience, at least it had missed her desk full of irreplaceable documents and evidence. This seemingly unfortunate event would also keep her from desperately swallowing tar for a caffeine boost. She wondered if not having her cup of joe would affect her mental stability, though. She quickly shrugged away this thought. Holly knew as soon as she looked at the old crime scene photos, she would be unable to sleep tonight.    

She finished picking up the mess she had made and sat back down in her chair. Grabbing one of the folders off the desk, Holly shivered. The black spaghetti strap shirt she was wearing left her arms naked and prickly by the September air blowing through the office. Her right shoulder ached from the cold causing her to run her hand over it; she grimaced as she felt the rubbery scars that lined her skin. They covered part of the lily tattoo she had gotten on her eighteenth birthday and it bothered her significantly. A dear friend of hers who was a brilliant artist had drawn the lily. It was abstract and beautiful. Each of the ten petals contained a picture different then the last. One was fiercely decorated with flames, another was the delicate wing of a butterfly, and the most colorful was a beach scene with a bright California sun gleaming over a palm tree. All three of these petals had been distorted by the scars, but her favorite, which held the emerald eye and pink lips of a Hispanic woman, had been untouched.

Feeling these scars, she couldn’t stop herself from remembering the man who had made them. Jason O. Putani, known by the few friends he had as Sonny, and by the country as the 5-13 Sadist, had forever left his mark on her. It had been six years ago on her first case working with the FBI. A string of murders of young women and girls in Virginia had been rattling the state since six years prior to her arrival. The killer took the life of a woman every Friday the thirteenth, and as stated in the note he left on the first body, would continue to do so until he collected the souls of thirteen virgins. He had left the bodies of the six young women nearly unrecognizable. His tool of choice was a hunter’s knife, but he often used strangulation to heighten his pleasure. After he killed them, he would carve which number they had been into their chest and would write his signature, 5-13, in blood on the woman’s forehead to seal the deal. All of the bodies had been found dumped in the woods, each posed nude in a different fashion. The identity of the killer would go unknown until the seventh year when Holly was assigned to the case.

Holly, who was twenty six at the time, broke major ground on the homicides, more than any other detective before her. Some would call it beginners luck. The truth to her success, though, had been a promise she made to the families of the murdered woman. She assured them that she wouldn’t stop looking until their killer had been brought to justice, and it was a promise she intended to keep. It was because of her drive, though, that she herself almost became the seventh victim.  Holly had unearthed everything she needed to arrest Sonny for the murders, but before she was able to, he fled. He had already kidnapped Zahra Benefield, an eleven year old girl who he had chosen to be number seven, and there was no sign of him giving up and letting her go. Holly was able to track him to a small shack way back in Virginia’s Jefferson National Forest, but she made the terrible mistake of confronting him alone. She was to pay greatly for her bravery.

 

The door to the shack was splintery to the touch, and much to her dismay, squeaked loudly when she pried it open. Stepping in cautiously, Holly eyed the girl huddled in a corner of the room. She viewed her surroundings, and not seeing anything out of the ordinary, made her way to the child. The next thing Holly knew, she was pinned underneath Sonny, and he was holding her gun. Droplets of warm liquid which she recognized as blood slowly seeped from a small gash in her forehead, created when she had hit the floor. Reaching for her weapon the two of them began to struggle, causing three rounds to be fired off, one hitting Holly in the right shoulder. With her right arm disabled, Sonny quickly regained control of the situation and he proceeded to restrain Holly’s hands and feet with a frayed old rope. He dragged her over to the girl and dropping her down hard, began to speak. It was only now that she had a chance to really observe him.

If Holy had not known any better, Sonny would have seemed almost placid as he paced back in forth in the dim light cascading from a gas lantern hanging loosely from a rusty nail in the rafters. His black eyes were glazed and never left Holly’s face. Even as she struggled to free the restraints from her wrists, Sonny was calm and made no attempt to stop her. Holly knew as well as he that trying to escape was futile; binding and torturing women was nothing less than an art form to him, and he never faulted in his work. She watched his lips move, but heard nothing as the shock began to kick in. Everything seemed so surreal and moved almost in slow-motion blurring the backdrop of the room. He was a handsome man for being a killer; no unsuspecting girl would think twice if asked out by him, and no young child would have been able to fight back against his muscular build without the proper training. His white teeth made a spectacle that said come on in girls, I’m a winner. Not a brown hair on his head was out of place, and his T-shirt was neatly talked into his slacks. What a deceiving sweet talker he was.

Holly was nearly passing out now because of the pain. She knew she had to focus. If she was to lose consciousness there would be no chance of her and Zahra making it out alive. The child still coward in the corner; she was bound and gagged, with her face red and covered in tears. Holly, still not paying attention to what Sonny was saying, used her legs as she lie on her back to push herself closer to the little girl, leaving a trail of blood from her shoulder. She was able to get enough of a grip with her feet to drive herself in the upright position against the wall. Holly now sat arm to arm with Zahra. She spoke softly to her, wincing from the pain every few words. “I’m going to get you out of here okay?” Zahra shook her head still crying. “I promise.”

“Ah ah ah”, Sonny hissed, waving his finger in Holly’s face. “It’s not good to make promises you can’t keep detective. It is even worse to lie to a child. After all they are so impressionable at this tender age.” Sonny ran his hand under Zahra’s Chin and snickered. The girl flinched away and made a squeal muffled by the gag. Her head fell into her lap as Sonny went to stand, and her long brunet hair covered her face. It was a childish attempt at emotionally escaping from the situation. “So foolish of you detective. Risking your life for another. And how is it that out of all of those pigs you were the one to find me? Ha, I guess it is fate.” Holly continued to stare Sonny down, looking for any advantage she had over him, but one had yet to surface. “I had originally picked little Zahra here to be my seventh work of art, but when the Gods drop a gift into your lap it is rude to deny it,” Sonny breathed, turning quickly and grabbing Holly by the legs. He hauled her to the center of the shack, and in one fast movement sat on her legs as he pulled out his long hunter’s knife. Its steel blade shimmered dreadfully in the light, sharp, and pointed. The wooden handle was stained red with the blood of the past six women. So many lives had been destroyed at the hands which held that knife. How many more? Holly wondered as she lay there.

Sonny undid Holly’s bullet proof vest, reading FBI, and through it forcefully to the other side of the room. Grabbing her by her bound wrists, he pulled Holly close and wafted in her sent. She tried hard not to gasp. She couldn’t let him see fear; that’s what he wanted. “You smell like lavender,” Sonny snickered. He leaned in and tried to kiss Holly, but she spat in his face. “You little b***h!” He yelled, wiping his eyes with his shirt. “So that’s how you want to play is it?” He tore her blouse open and little black buttons popped and scattered across the floor boards. Holly still did not take her eyes off of him, even as Sonny slid the blade of the knife under the front of her bra. He jerked the knife forward and it cut through the fabric like it was air. Still Holly did not flinch. It was only when Sonny ran the blade across her exposed chest that she jerked her head to the side. Grinding her teeth, Holly, tried to let her mind wonder someplace else, but the pain was burning hot and it made it difficult for her to breathe.

When Sonny finished he placed the blade to his tongue tasting Holly’s blood. He looked down at his handy work. The numeral 7 carved between her breasts was a beautiful sight to him. She was his now, and the defeated look in Holly’s eyes told him that she knew it too. For a few moments he did nothing but watch her, trying to capture every detail and retain it within his mind. He didn’t want to forget anything that had happened or that was about to happen. More importantly he wanted to hold on to what he was feeling. The power and sexual release was immense. At one time he even believed that if he could simply replay everything in his head that he would never have the urge to kill again, but that philosophy was quickly disproved. Killing is what gave him life. It was what gave him purpose. Why stop when he was so good at it?

Sonny had just wrapped his hands around Holly’s neck when he heard the sound of howling dogs closing in on him. In the next instant as the door of the shack was busted in, Holly, who was still sitting at her desk, was snapped out of her memory by another agent’s voice. “Are you okay Holly?” Emily asked. Her hazel eyes looked at Holly with apprehension.

“Yeah,” holly answered shacking away her dazed state. “I’m fine just thinking about…” Holly’s voice trailed off.

“About the 5-13 case?” Emily finished.

“Yeah.”

“No one would blame you if you were to go home and get some rest. This is a stressful case for you. AJ and I can look through these files for you.”

“Thanks, but I can’t. I can’t go home knowing he is going to kill another girl tonight.”

“Okay,” Emily sighed sitting down at the desk in front on Holly’s, “well two sets of eyes are better than one.” Holly smiled as a gesture to say thank you. It meant a lot to have someone beside her as she relived her past, but Emily was not just another agent in the field. She was also a close friend of Holly’s. It had been Emily that found Holly bleeding out on the floor of the shack, and who had stayed up all night at the hospital just to comfort her fellow colleague. Holly had told Emily almost everything that had happened that terrible night, while she gave vague details to many others.   

Holly could recall every detail of what took part inside that decrepit shack. Every gruesome thing Sonny had done to her, and Zahra, would never be far from her mind. Whenever she talked about it in counseling or with a nosy colleague, though, she summed it up to how she received the scars on her shoulder and why he had gotten away. She would discuss how she had not been aware of his presence on entering the shack, and when she saw Zahra curled in a corner she could think of nothing else but saving her. After taking a few steps away from the door she felt a blow to her head and found herself pinned on the floor beneath Sonny. He was holding her gun. Loosely she would describe how in the midst of their struggle to control the weapon, three shots went off, one which blew out her shoulder. It took backup nearly half an hour to locate her whereabouts, in which time Sonny had been able to pack the supplies he needed and flee with the child. In the years that followed, five more bodies were found, but none of them had been Zahra. Many still believed that he had killed her and that her remains had just never been recovered, but Holly and Zahra’s mother felt differently.

Zahra’s mom, Lisa Benefield, continued to believe her daughter was alive, and she called Holly every year on the anniversary of the abduction. Each year it never failed that there would be another body found, but none of the girls had been her daughter. It brought Lisa hope that Zahra was still alive. Holly and she would talk for hours, sometimes for most of the night. They found comfort in spending what was the worst day of both of their lives together, even if it was only on the phone. “Misery loves company,” and this was true for them. The two rarely discussed the case anymore, though. No new evidence on Zahra’s whereabouts had arisen, and it was already know who the kidnapper was. And while they did not discuss any of this, Zahra was always part of the conversation. She had been her mother’s world, and she still was.

There were many things that Holly never released about that night, even to Emily. One detail was the reason why she knew Sonny had not yet killed Zahra. Looking down at her chest, she could feel the blade slicing through her skin as if it were happening again. The numeral 7 scrolled between her breasts was a mark of death. He had chosen her to die and he had saved the girl for another time. Before victim eight was discovered, Holly had believed that the next body found would be Zahra, but with all but two women slain, she knew that they would be the last to die. If Sonny had not been alerted to the detectives closing in on his hideout, Holly knew she would already be six feet under. Though she was grateful to be alive, she couldn’t help but wonder what kind of life Zahra, who would now be seventeen, had led.

As the two agents scoured through the files, Holly’s cell phone began to ring. Recognizing the number as one belonging to a county officer, she answered swiftly. “Detective Holly,” she stated upon opening her phone.

“Detective Holly, this is Officer Brown,” a young southern man replied. “I’m calling to inform you that the 5-13 sadist has left another note, and it seems to be addressed to you ma’am. It was discovered about thirty minutes ago by the first victim’s parents.” Holly felt her blood run cold and she fell instantly silent. The image of Mr. and Mrs. James coming across the note came to her mind. Those poor people, she thought. How many times must they relive their daughter’s murder?  “Are you there ma’am, did ya hear me?” Officer Brown cut into Holly’s thoughts.

“Yes, Officer Brown, I heard you,” she answered, forcing herself to take a breath of air. “Can you read the note to me?” Emily watched with questioning eyes as Holly put the phone on speaker.

“Yes ma’am I can,” the young officer replied in a southern drawl. “It appears to be some sorta poem.”  As the officer read, Holly could hear his voice fade away and Sonny’s came in to take its place.

“Thirteen years

Only eleven have died

But do not think

That I have lied

Blood will spill

And this is the day

Only two more virgins

Left to slay

You escaped me once

But you won’t do it again

Holly Shytes

This is the end

Lucky number 7

Is lucky no more

We will be together

Just as before”

“He’s back ma’am. The 5-13 sadist is going to kill again, and this time it appears he wants you.”

“Officer Brown, I need you to do something for me. Are you listening?”

“Yes, ma’am, anything you need.”

Holly began scrambling to gather her things and gestured for Emily to do the same. Slinging her coat over her shoulder, clipping her hand gun into its holster, and with her extra hand holding on to her car keys, she proceeded with her requests. “I need you to get every unit and dog team out searching Jefferson National Forest immediately!”

“How do you know he’s there?” Holly’s looked at Emily who could see the terror etched on her face.

“Because, it’s where he started our game…”

 

Leaves and a number of large tree branches littered the forest floor making the trek through a difficult one. There were nearly two dozen detectives and cops searching for the notorious 5-13 sadist, but only one had the knowledge required to find him. Holly knew that Sonny would never let an entire team of detectives anywhere near him, he was too smart for that, and because of this, she knew going in alone would be the only way to save Zahra. It had nearly gotten her killed the first time, but it was the only option and she was ready to face him. Leaving the rest of the group to be on the lookout about fifty meters away, Holly continued hiking towards the location of the shack. She would only have one chance. One chance to live or to die. Even with other officers not far from the scene, she knew that if this didn’t go as expected, they would not be able to respond before he could kill her.

Holly was only about thirty yards away from the shack when she caught sight of Emily trailing several feet behind her. Her hair was so black that the only thing clearly visible to Holly was her ruby red lipstick. “What are you doing here?” Holly asked a little more sharply than she meant to.

“I can’t let you go in there with him alone! Holly he could kill you; you’re lucky he wasn’t after you the first time, but now he is.”

Tears pooled in Holly’s eyes, but she was able to fight through them. “I have to save her!”

“Who?...Zahra?” Emily asked. “Honey you know he most likely killed her years ago.”

“No,” Holly’s lip quivered, “he didn’t.”

“How can you be sure?”

“Because,” Holly answered pulling down the front of her blouse, “he wanted me.” Emily gasped at the sight of the jagged scars crossing Holly’s skin, fashioned together to form a 7.

“Honey why didn’t you tell anyone about this?”

Holly wiped her eyes with the side of her index finger. “I don’t know. I just didn’t want people to know what he did to me and think I couldn’t do my job. I knew if the boss found out he cut me that he would pull me off the case. I couldn’t let him do that Emily; I have to stop him. I have to save Zahra.”

Hugging her Emily responded, “I understand, but you didn’t have to go through this alone, and you don’t have to get yourself killed in the process.

Holly accepted the hug and after a few seconds gently pulled back. “I have to go now…alone. If he sees you coming he may flee or kill Zahra if she is still alive.”

“Fine. I will wait here, but if you need back up fire a shot, throw something at the wall, anything that will get my attention.”

“I will. I promise. And I always keep my promises,” Holly added trying to assure herself more than Emily.

The splintery door of the shack let out a loud squeak as it was flung open. Holly stepped in vigilantly scanning her surroundings, her gun drawn. Nothing had changed in the little room where so much evil had entered her life. The floor was still riddled with holes and old blood splatters still clung to the walls. Another familiar sight was that of what was now a young woman huddled in the corner. “Zahra is that you?” Holly whispered. “Is he in here,” but the girl did not respond. Holly didn’t doubt that after being captive for nearly half of her life that she was suffering from many psychological problems, so she wasn’t shocked at her inability or objection to speaking. She cautiously moved across the room to where Zahra sat, and noticing nothing out of the ordinary yet, proceeded to untie the restraints on the girl’s wrists. Gun still in hand, Holly grabbed Zahra’s arm and made a quick attempt to pull her from the corner. “Come on sweetie, come with me quickly!” but Zahra did not move. “Come on we have to…” Holly felt a blow to her side, and she hit the floor falling unconscious.

Opening her eyes was like déjà vu. Sonny stood over her smiling as he once had before. The same evil lurked with in him, but he had lost his physical charm. His neat brown hair was now scraggily and graying, and his face was becoming etched with wrinkles. He had a harsh voice, but his vocabulary still seemed just as immense. She wondered if he was putting on a front or if this was how he talked on normal occasions. If there was such a thing as a normal occasion for a killer.  Breathing out, his scrawny nostrils flared. Maybe she would have found this comical if they hadn’t had such a violent history. Chapped lips covered his now yellow smile; it was a sickening sight even for someone who had seen countless homicide scenes. And those eyes, those eyes were the Devil’s, black as a ravens and empty of any emotion; they had not changed. Though Holly had never been much of a God fearing woman, there was now no doubt in her mind that Hell indeed existed, and Sonny was Lucifer himself.

Sonny smiled, “I told you I would have you.” Holly felt for her weapon, but it was no longer located at her hip. “Looking for your gun are you? Well don’t bother.” He pointed to where it had fallen on the other side of the room next to the emotionless Zahra. She looked almost the same as she did the first time Holly had seen her. Long brunet hair still swallowed up her face, but she had grown taller and now had the physical appearance of a woman. Not once did she look up or make any sound. To long had she been physically imprisoned, and now she was imprisoned within herself.

“Don’t worry detective,” Sonny hissed, “little Zahra knows better than to play with guns. I have trained her well.” Holly’s breathing tensed and her face flushed with rage. She raised her hand in a desperate attempt to slap him.

            “You b*****d! What did you do to her!?!”

            Sonny snatched her hand out of the air inches from his cheek. “No, no, no. You be a good girl detective Holly and I’ll show you just what I’ve done to your precious Zahra.” He ripped open Holly’s shirt and cut through the center of her bra. He stared down at the 7 still engraved deep in her skin. He closed his eyes and put his nose to Holly’s chest and inhaled deeply. “I have been waiting six long years to do this!” he said, lifting the knife high above the 7 he had cut years ago.

“Stop!!” a small raspy voice rose from the corner. Sonny and Holly turned to see the Zahra sobbing and holding the gun. Her finger was firmly planted on the trigger, and the barrel was aimed at Sonny. “Get away from her!” Zahra screamed at him. Sonny looked shocked, but he tried to use what little charm he believed he had left in his favor.

“Now Zahra put that down.” Sonny moved closer. “We don’t want anyone to get hurt here.”

“Put the knife down!” Zahra ordered. Sonny obeyed, though, he was obviously not pleased.

“Come now Zahra,” he said stepping a few feet more in the direction of the girl, “you couldn’t shoot me if you wanted to. You have always been such a sweet girl.”

“Shut up.”

“Zahra please…”

“SHUT UP!” Zahra screamed. Holly, who was still drowsy managed to pull herself to her feet.

“Zahra please give me the gun.” The girl’s eyes shifted towards Holly for a split second, but quickly refocused on Sonny.

“I can’t.” Zahra’s hands were shaking, but she held tight to the weapon.

“Yes you can Zahra. You don’t have to do this he can’t hurt you anymore,” Holly assured holding her are out to Zahra.

“He was going to kill us!”

“I know, but he isn’t going to get away with it. He is going to go to prison for the rest of his life.”

“He disserves to die!” Zahra screamed.

“You are right he does, but that doesn’t mean that you have to be the one to kill him. There is no doubt in my mind that he will get the lethal injection, and I promise you if he does ill flip the switch myself, but you do not have to become a killer. Please Zahra, just give me the gun and let me take you home.”

“What home? I have no home; my mom is dead. He told me she was.”

Holly shook her head. “Zahra he lied to you. Your mom is alive and she has never stopped looking for you.”

“She’s…my mom…she’s alive?

Holly had been inching closer and was now in arms length of Zahra. “Yes Zahra, she is,” Holly said slowly wrapping her fingers around the gun and pulling it from Zahra’s hands. The girl crumbled to the floor in tears and Holly quickly followed to consul her. It was only then when Sonny made his move and snatched the knife from the floor. He lunged for Holly who turned and fired the gun. For an instant the inside of the shack lit up, alerting Emily who was still waiting outside. Calling for backup she ran for the door.

“Shots fired! All units please respond!” Emily busted through the door, armed and ready, but there was no need. Sonny was lying on the ground with a hole in his chest and blood sputtering from his mouth. Holly stood at his feet with one arm around Zahra and the other still lifted forward with her weapon drawn. When she saw Emily, she dropped the gun and let out the breath which she had been holding in. Slowly Holly and Zahra made their way out of the shack.

“I’ll be back for you both,” Sonny muttered still smiling as they passed him, but they gave him no acknowledgement.

Holly and Zahra walked in silence as they made their way out of the woods to the suburban Holly had drove to the scene. It was only after they had been driving for about fifteen minutes that any words were spoken.   “He told me you weren’t coming back, but I knew you would,” Zahra said staring out the window at the passing trees. “You promised not to leave me with him.”

“That I did,” Holly responded peering into the rearview mirror, “and I always keep my promises.”

 

It was a little after ten when Lisa Benefield picked up the phone to make her usual Friday the thirteenth call. It had been so many years now that she had thought about skipping tonight’s check in; it always took so much out of her, and left her stressed for days. She had to call, though. This was supposed to be the last year of murders committed by the 5-13 Sadist, and she needed Holly to assure her that it was really over. More than anything she needed to hear Holly tell her like she had many times before, that she was going to catch him and that she would never give up looking for Zahra. So she waited as the phone rang and tried to prepare herself for the discussion that was to come. The ringing on the other end of the line taunted her. Then the phone clicked… “Hi mom,” Lisa heard.

 

 

 

 

 

Dedicated to my mother who started me watching crime shows young. Also in honor of the women and men of the F.B.I who tirelessly fight in the name of Lady Justice.

 

 

 

 

  

"Better to write for yourself and have no public,

than to write for the public and have no self."

-Cyril Connolly

 


© 2011 Voice



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Added on January 3, 2011
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Wouldn'tyouliketoknowyoucreeperSTRANGERDANGER, MI



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