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Chapter Reveal

I’m moving along in the stolen pickup, my body bouncing from the bumpy road. The two-track trail that heads to a remote area I scoped out weeks ago is coming up. It’s barely noticeable from the main road. The fact it’s still bright outside is what allows me to work well after midnight. Land of the Midnight Sun, they call it. I call it annoying for sleep and a pain in the butt when I want to hide in the dark. I’m still getting used to all the daylight they have here, but I’ll admit it’s helpful for tasks like this.

I came here for a reason. To finally make her pay. But being able to move merchandise out of and through here has been a bonus for me. I’ve made more money in the short time I’ve been here than I ever did down south in one season. The bears will be on this one quickly, so there shouldn’t be much evidence left over when all is said and done. It’ll be chalked up to another runaway.

I make my turn and stop the truck when I reach the part of the trail I want. There is no place to pull over and park. I step out and take a look around. I’m on top of a large butte the locals call a dome because of its round shape. You can see for miles in almost every direction. The black spruce trees are sparse and spindly. This area of Alaska is mostly a soft tundra. In the distance I can make out a moose, the only witness to what I’m about to do.

Opening the bed of the truck, I glance around one last time before I grab the tarp and pull. The body hits the ground with a thud. I’m not concerned as she’s already dead. I had to kill her when she kept screaming for help. Now, she’ll be quiet as a mouse. It reminds me of the last time I broke a girl’s jaw; she screamed and cried out too.

A sinister grin moves across my face at that thought. I bet I look like the Joker right now. I drag the tarp covered body over to the edge of the road. There is a steep embankment on this side. I unfurl the sheeting and hang on to it as I watch the body roll down the hill.

There’s enough blood on the body that animals will smell it soon and come to inspect it. Aside from the bears and wolves, I bet smaller critters will find it too. Or even the large carrion birds.

“Lunch, boys.” My voice carries in the quiet of the night.

I look down at my watch. I don’t have much time to get back to Ptarmigan Falls to finish the next part of my plan. This means I’m going to have to rush and not enjoy myself with the next kill.

The perfect revenge can’t be accomplished without the perfect bait, which I’ve got now. He’s been sticking his nose into my business, and I can’t have that. But more importantly, killing him will bring back the one person I need to finish all this.

A short twenty minutes later, I’m in the center of Ptarmigan Falls. The town sits near the Chatanika River and is a short drive from Fairbanks. It’s geared for truck drivers. There’s a gas station-convenience store, a café-style diner, and a few other small businesses, including the saloon, which is my destination.

I pull into the parking lot of the Keller Clubhouse Saloon. My hood is pulled low enough over my forehead so the exterior cameras on the premises won’t be able to identify me. I’ve watched him for the last several nights. He closes at three in the morning. It takes him and the staff an additional half hour to an hour to clean up, then he sticks around to do the nightly drop in the safe. Tonight, being a Wednesday night, was a bit slower, and that’s what I need. I move to the side door. It will be unlocked as he’ll be coming out that exit soon. Folks around here think because it’s a small, remote area no one would rob them or want to hurt them. Gullible idiots. I look back and notice the diner next door is still dark. This is the perfect time. No staff at either location means no witnesses to kill; however, the diner owner next door will meet her death soon enough.

My heavy boots thud as I slip through the door. I lighten my steps as I move toward the office where I know he’ll be seated at the desk. I step into the light, and he pauses for a moment when he looks up. He must have heard me approach and assumed I was an employee who forgot something. Otherwise, he would be pulling one of the many guns I know he has hidden in the office. He’s too trusting. He doesn’t expect an enemy here. Little does he know he’s not truly my enemy but a means to an end.

“Look, man, we open again later today at four. If you’re here for money, I don’t have much to give you. It’s already been dropped into the locked safe and I can’t open it for you.” He points to the in-floor safe.

When he moves his chair back to stand, I pull my gun out and point it at him. I tip it slightly to indicate for him to stay where he is. I got the drop on him. He really wasn’t expecting me. I’d be dead by now otherwise.

“I’m not here for money.” I take aim. His face changes instantly. He holds up his hands like he can ward off what is about to happen to him.

“I have a family. You don’t want to do this.” His voice changes slightly as he begs.

I kind of want to hear him beg some more. In my moment of pause, he reaches under his desk. The old man tricked me. I can’t forget he used to be in the military, he’s trained.

I fire a shot. The bullet slams into his chest and he falls back in the chair, his body going limp. He coughs and I smile with joy. This is so much fun. I move across the room as I watch both of his hands to see if he’ll go for the gun again.

“Don’t you want to know why I’m killing you?” I ask, and he nods at me.

When I’m standing right in front of him, holding the gun to his forehead, I lean close. The blowback is going to get me, but I don’t care. I plan on burning my clothes along with the truck as soon as I leave here. There will never be any trace of me, even the gun will be disposed of.

“I’m going to have so much fun fucking her up. Thank you for playing my game.” I squeeze the trigger as his eyes flare wide at my words. The bullet cuts through his forehead between his eyebrows and exits out the back in a huge chunk with the chair. The wall behind him splatters in a fine pink mist of blood and brain matter. Blood sprays my face, and I can’t stop the full-body laugh that breaks from my chest.

“I’m really going to enjoy this next part.”

I notice his laptop and pick it up. I smash it into the wall until it’s cracked and hanging by one hinge. I destroy his cell phone next, not sure if he could have somehow recorded this, but now I won’t have to worry.

Stomping toward the exit because no one is here to hear me, I head back out to the truck to clean myself up and wait for the game to really start.

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