By Talyn Marie
Norton looked both ways before approaching the busy street. He crossed quickly ahead of oncoming traffic. He did so with a small wave to approaching cars, just as any average person out for a walk would do. It was important to blend in. If there was one thing Norton was good at, it was looking “normal”. He had a talent for concealment. His plain looks and calm body language made him invisible to others the way a spider in the bed can be impossible to validate, even when you see the marks of its bite the next morning. As a child he had been ignored often and now as an adult had perfected the skill of obscurity. He knew how to dress, walk, and even talk in a way that made him unmemorable to most people.
Today Norman wore a pair of ordinary khaki shorts, white socks and sneakers. His shirt was a white button down with a subtle collar. He had unbuttoned the top three buttons and rolled up the sleeves to create a casual tone. Norton’s build was large but unthreatening. He stood at a modest five foot nine, and a large amount of his two hundred and thirty pound frame was carried in his belly, making most children subconsciously think of Santa Clause. His mousy brown hair matched his dull brown eyes. His skin is tan but not overly so. He wore a beard that had started to gray but kept it cropped close to his skin creating a face that was easily forgettable.
He considered his best feature to be his smile and was proud to show it often. When he did sense he was making someone uncomfortable, he could almost always put them at ease quickly with a grin. If a mother came upon him unexpectedly talking with her child his smile could eliminate the concern in her brow and he would go from being creepy to a nice lonely old man in minutes. His straight pearl teeth soothed away any thoughts of danger. He used it to his advantage frequently.
He headed for the LakeGrappleBridge. It was an ancient thing that looked as if it would tumble to the weedy bed of waters below it any minute. The antique wood was colorless except for the green algae growing up the pillars. It clung in slimy effort to reach the platform; tendrils of glop dancing with each wave the passing boat motors brought.
At one point Lake Grapple was the town’s biggest tourist attraction. It started with the one hundred yard bridge leading in an arch to a small island in the middle of the lake. There a visitor would find sandy beaches, picnicking areas and a large playground in the middle of it all. One side boasted a beach for smaller children with shallow waters and large tractor tires buried half way into the soft sand. The other side held a respectable boat docking area for fishermen who wanted to stop for a visit. Less than ten years ago you would have found the larger kids taking turns daring each other to jump off the center of the bridge while their parents drank beers and grilled hot dogs at the pavilion. People once upon a time played Frisbee with their dogs, and kids teeter-tottered to their hearts delight.
Now all the island had to offer were run down out houses, splinters from the picnic tables, and mounds of goose shit everywhere you looked. It was no longer a friendly place. It was a hang out for the drunks and teenagers. Instead of seeing a plastic shovel in the sand you were more likely to see a used condom. The fishing in the lake had died off. The bridge continued to deteriorate waiting for the day when the island would close down and it would be relieved of its creaking wail each time it was used.
Norton was here because dilapidated as it may be, there were still some people who used the island to entertain their children. Some of them were unwed teenage moms looking for a way to occupy their kids without evil stares from the good upstanding women inhabiting the beaches of other local lakes. There were the occasional weekend dads looking for free amusement and parents who brought their kids here because they were too nostalgic or too stupid to realize the world had moved on. It wasn’t a Chucky Cheese or the mall as far as hunting grounds went but, as Norton’s mother used to say when passing a thrift store, it never hurts to take a look-see.
As Norton crossed the bridge he could already see a familiar red dot bouncing about in the little part of beach that had not yet been taken over with weeds. The town had been decent enough to at least rope this area off with floats so the kids would not go out too far and curiously the red dot had been here on the two previous trips he had made to the island.
Norton’s mouth went dry. He purposely slowed down his pace watching as the girl in the red swimsuit dashed back and forth in her play. On his previous trip there had been a drunken family reunion in full swing and a birthday party (obviously thrown together last minute) the time before that. With so many people around, he had been unable to tell whom the girl belonged to. Today the island was fairly unpopulated so he looked around for the girl’s parent. He suspected her mother was the young lady standing by the pavilion talking with two other teenagers. Occasionally she would look down toward the beach before turning her attention back to the couple. She was a plain girl with lifeless brown hair pulled up in a pony tail, a faded blue halter top and cut off jean shorts. She was thin and frail, and almost as unnoticeable as Norton could be.
Her two friends were a little more interesting in their choice of fashion. The woman, who couldn’t have been a woman for more than a few weeks by the look of her, sported a black tank top and long bell bottom jeans that looked as if they were held together with the eighty or so silver safety pins running down their length. Her hair was bright pink and shaved from one side of her head. She had several black bracelets on as well as a pair of clunky black combat boots. Perfect beach wear.
The boyfriend of Goth girl, Norton assumed they were a couple as he got closer and observed matching tattoos, also wore black bracelets down the length of his arms. He had on a white shirt Norton’s kids would have called a wife beater, and torn baggie cut off shorts that might as well have been pants from the way they hung down on his calves. His hair was a dull shade of green that looked as if he had dunked his entire head in puke.
Norton circled the group to the far right side of the pavilion and leaned against a post. He pretended to focus on a small fishing boat some ways out but kept little red bathing suit in his peripheral vision.
She had built a lump in the sand which he could only assume was meant to be a castle. Currently she was carrying water from the lake to the moat (or poorly dug ditch around the lump if you wanted to be a dick about it) using her yellow plastic shovel. As she carried each shovel full of water her sweet face frowned with the extreme concentration it took to spill as little as possible along the way.
Her mother may be plain Jane, but little red swimsuit was not. Her face was angelic. Her lips were as red as blood. Her eyes were inquisitive almonds over her high cheek bones and Norton could see her long eyelashes from where he stood some thirty feet away. Her hair was a beautiful auburn that bounced down her back in messy sweet curls. The sun reflected off it in a wonderful glow that made it look as if she had a halo about her head. Her tiny arms and legs shown the lightest dusting of freckles through her olive toned skin. She looked to be about seven or eight. That age just before young girls start to become self conscious of their bodies enough to notice you looking at them. She was still innocent and pure. She probably still believed in Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny. Still trusted every adult she met (assuming she hadn’t been hurt by one) and still found a fascination in every thing she saw. She was perfect.
Norton pretended to be looking at his phone, perhaps playing a game, while keeping an eye on the situation. He saw with delight that the two Goth friends were trying to lure plain Jane away from the beach to a nearby out building. Probably to smoke a little pot, maybe to shoot a little heroine. Either way Norton saw the look of eagerness and mild concern battle on the mothers face. He had seen this look before and knew even before she took a step in that direction that she would go.
He began walking toward the beach, holding his phone up in the air as if looking for a signal. The mother noticed him but didn’t see the threat. She turned to her friends and pointed back over her shoulder at the little red swimsuit. Norton played the fake conversation in his head, “she’ll be fine…, it’s only a minute” her friends would be telling her. His heart began to race. The mother looked around once more and then headed for the back of the outbuilding. This was the most critical moment. Norton had to stay calm. If he rushed over too soon the group may see him on one last look back. If he waited too long he could be caught without enough time to do what needed done. In moments like these he found it helpful to count to sixty before moving in.
He was at eighteen when the child tugged at his shorts. In his amped up state, Norton jumped at the tug and nearly cried out. How had she gotten so close so quickly? She was at the waters edge when he started the count! Now she was here, by his side, smiling up at him. Up close, Norton saw, she was even more beautiful than he at first believed. She was showing him a cockeyed grin of perfect white teeth with her chin tilted slightly sideways and her big brown eyes staring up. One shoulder pushed out slightly forward making it seem as if she were flirting with him. When she had his attention she swayed back and forth with her hands clasped in front of her, blinking those big brown eyes as if.…as if… yes, she was teasing him! Norton was almost sure of it.
“Do you want to play” the girl asked, her voice a tender melody of childlike tone.
Norton’s voice cracked as he replied, “Yes.”
“Do you have any toys?” she inquired.
“In my car.” He answered.
The little girl looked around and was apparently unfazed by the fact that her mother was not in sight. “Can we go get them?” she asked and that was it.
Exactly seven minutes and twenty-two seconds after the plain Jane had stepped out of sight (it was to shoot a little H) little red swimsuit was sitting in the passenger seat of Norton’s plain Buick Century. He couldn’t believe his luck; he had never gotten a kid in his car this easily and in fact, on many attempts hadn’t gotten them at all.
Norton had put the car into drive when the little girl shouted, “Stop”.
He knew it was too easy. Now she would fight. Now she would realize her mommy was still on the beach and she had committed the ultimate sin of getting into a car with a stranger. She would cause a scene and Norton would have to deal with her in the parking lot rather than his suburb basement where he intended to take her.
Norton instinctively engaged the locks on the car’s doors.
“What’s wrong sweetie?” he asked in a soothing voice. The girl smiled up at him and winked one eye.
“You forgot to buckle me up!”
That wink. It left him unsettled. It was almost as if the girl knew he was trying to steal her and she thought it was a game. As if she were saying, “You thought the jig was up but mister, you have no idea how bad” Why would she wink? What child of this young age winks at you? Now that he thought of it, he had never seen a child wink one eye. He was sure they did if taught and then prompted by an adult but it didn’t seem like something they did on their own. She did it like they were sharing a joke. It seemed unnatural to see her winking at him as if enjoying his fear of being caught.
Norton realized this was ridiculous and told himself to get a grip before he did get himself caught. He reached over and grabbed her seat belt. As he stretched it across her, he was again surprised by the feel of her chest rising up to meet his hand. It was so slight and so quick he wasn’t sure it wasn’t wishful thinking. Had she really wanted him to touch her breasts? Perhaps she was just taking a deep breath at the precise moment his hand brushed by her.
It was unnerving but this was getting exciting. He felt his crotch stiffen as he drove the seatbelt ring into the mating slot. He put the car in drive and pulled out of the parking lot. His passenger never made any objection, never asked a question, just continued to stare at him with that crooked “hand in the cookie jar” grin. It made him feel as if they were now sharing the secret. She was so damn beautiful. He was in love.
Society would judge Norton a monster but the truth was Norton hated hurting the kids. Part of the fantasy was giving the child as much pleasure as he took. He tried to make it as easy on them as possible and when the end came always killed them quickly. He would never kill them at all if it weren’t for the fact that they were a threat to his freedom. He had learned long ago that it was impossible to fight his impulses however; he would not let his needs control him to the point of drawing out their death. He couldn’t keep them of course. At one time he had thought about trying to keep a single child but that was not possible. He often grew board with them after a very short period for one thing. Another reason; he fed off their incorruptibility. It was the sweet purity of their soul that he craved. The fact that they didn’t understand the acts being performed somehow made them seem less gruesome and therefore more comfortable to him. Eventually this virtue drained out of them and he hated what he saw looking back at him in its place. He wanted to avoid the guilt he felt at all cost but he couldn’t let them go either. So in the end the killing was just like doing the dishes after a really big meal. You wanted to go to bed full and satisfied but you had made a mess so you had a responsibility to clean it up before someone dropped by the next morning.
Norton had brought the girl to his car on the pretense that he had toys in it, which he did not. He wondered now how long before the little girl asked about the toys again. He looked at his passenger and saw that one of the straps to her little red swimsuit had slipped off her shoulder and hung lazily against the cream of her white arm. She continued to stare up at him with her large brown eyes. He couldn’t take it anymore. His erection throbbed. He decided to take her to a wooded area he knew of that was closer than his home. He turned his blinker on and sped up a little as he merged to the right.
When they turned down the easement and headed into the woods the girl surprised Norton again by not objecting. She did stop looking at him long enough to look around at the trees and her breathing started to pick up a little.
“Are we close,” she asked. Norton could hear the fear in her voice now and almost breathed a sigh of relief. It had been too easy up to this point and it was making him nervous.
“Close,” he grunted out. Norton’s breathing had increased as well but for much different reasons. When he felt sure they had gone far enough in to provide the needed privacy he brought the car to a stop. He looked over at this young beauty and once again saw the innocence in her face.
“Why did we stop?” her eyes were darting around now, realizing how alone they were. She was almost panting. Norton knew it was now or never. Soon she would scream. The doors to the car were still locked and he hoped she would not provide too much of a struggle.
“I want to play a game,” Norton said. Then he reached over and put his hand on her bare thigh.
The reaction was immediate. It was like receiving a static shock that went on and on. Norton felt a jolt of pure adrenaline and ecstasy shoot through him and his hand flung off the soft flesh as if thrown. Now his breathing was very heavy. His heart was racing. He realized that for the first time in almost thirty-four years, he had blown his wad right into his tidy whities. He looked up with a grin.
He felt dizzy and took a few moments to calm himself. His sweet little passenger made no attempt to flee. She asked no questions; just sat staring at him and doing a little panting herself. Norton looked in her face and saw that her expression had changed. What he had assumed was fear was excitement instead. She seamed just as caught up in passion as he was and he wondered how that could be. It was wonderful and scary at the same time. As he watched in disbelief, she reached over and laid one tiny hand on the wet stain on his pants.
Again, Norton felt that jolt of electric energy only this time it didn’t let go. It ran down his limbs in great waves and Norton once again felt himself ejaculate. Instead of relief at this, he sensed the pressure of arousal still pulsing through his lap. He panted and tried to move. The child was no longer in the passenger seat beside him but on his lap, leaning over him. Somehow she had gotten the seatbelt undone. Norton was confused and his body was growing very warm. He felt as if he were running the highest temperature of his life. He tried to move her hand away but didn’t have the strength to lift his own arm.
Another spasm shuddered through his groin and his testicles sang out a pain of objection.
What was happening to him? He was spent. He couldn’t fathom that he was still erect after all this, and his fear started to gain momentum. He heard a low guttural growl and had a moment to wonder if there were wolves in these woods before realizing it was the child.
Suddenly Norton began to remember things he had thought forever forgotten. First just the last victim. The way he had struggled. The screams. Then the other children came to mind. There had been thirty-three in all and Norton usually couldn’t recall any of them in great detail. He has always forced himself not to remember it. He had children of his own and didn’t want to think of what he had done to the others.
He tried to block these memories and couldn’t. It felt as though burning fingers were pushing them to the front of his mind then scratching their way back in his brain for the next. One by one the memories drew out of him like poison and with each one his poor penis shot forth hot spunk. Again and again his body jerked forward. The girl was still on his lap, her accusing eyes hovering over him. His fever climbed as did his terror. He was burning up. He must be hallucinating. He couldn’t stop seeing those children he had hurt.
“No more,” Norton gasped and looked down at his pants. He could still see the small white hand there holding him but now saw there was something below the surface of that skin, crawling. It was hard to focus on, like seeing it under water, blurring in and out of shape. Sometimes it was a hand, sometimes it looked almost like a claw, and at one point he would have sworn it was a talon of some small prehistoric bird. It changed shapes rapidly and in rhythm with the dreadful memories changing in his mind like a bad movie reel.
He noticed without some surprise that a pool of blood was spreading out from under the small fingers as well as semen. Norton looked up; the innocent young face was gone. It was replaced with one of knowing and pure hatred. She looked absolutely insane with anger and Norton screamed with fear. Her only answer was that feral growl. It grew louder and louder until he felt as if his eardrums would shatter.
“Noooooo…Help! Somebody Help!” but none would come and Norton knew it. This was his turf after all. He had chosen it for its seclusion and now realized with self loathing the depth of fear his victims must have faced in the end.
His fever continued to climb faster and faster. His body felt so hot. He couldn’t move. His skin felt like a rash of fire and he could hear his brain throbbing in protest against his skull. Wave after wave sent pain into his scrotum and he tried to cry. No tears came. Instead warm goo ran down his face in sticky streams. His eyes had started to melt.
The last vision Norton saw was the girl smile as she leaned toward him. The smile was all teeth; Sharp jagged teeth that looked like thick needles reaching out to him. Her entire mouth was full of those ivory knives and it seemed there were too many to ever be able to count. His screams became muffled as she bit out his tongue.
The spasms from his genitals had finally ended but the true pain was hours from over.