Wednesday: March 4, 2026
1:38 AM; CLINSTONE, WEST DODGE STREET
The man pulled off of West Dodge Street, turning his truck onto Russell Street instead. It was a lonely little gravel road that led to a dead end in just under five hundred feet. There were no cameras on Russell Street. It was in the more rural part of Clinstone, and it would prevent him from being caught on anyone’s recording device.
He shut off the truck and pushed open the door. He jumped down, the thin layer of snow crunching beneath his boots. He shut the door, tugging at the collar of his coat with gloved hands. He walked around to the back of the truck, pulled down the gate, and jumped up into the bed of the truck. He slid the ramp down, pushing on it until it was firmly in place. He wrapped his hands around his contraption and pulled it down the ramp. He had made it with wood and hinges, making it easy to fold up. He had given it to wheels to make transportation easy.
Back on the ground, he let out a heavy breath and started pushing the contraption down the road and toward the park. Despite the cold, he didn’t mind walking all six hundred and seventy feet to Haven’s Park. He headed back for the truck and pulled open the back door. He grabbed the young man’s arm and pulled him out of the truck.
His victim stumbled, falling to his knees in the middle of the road. “Up we go,” the killer murmured, wrapping a hand around his victim’s arm and tugging him back to his feet. The killer reached out and closed the door before leading his victim to the park. He unfolded the hinged table, unfolded the hinged upright portion of his device.
He helped his victim lay down on the table, his stomach pressed against the wood. He pushed the top half of the lunette into place and, although the victim couldn’t feel it, patted him on the shoulder.
The killer closed his eyes for a moment. Forcing them open once more, he pulled down on the release lever.
The blade came down in less than a second, cutting through the man’s neck in one clean motion. His head fell into the wooden basket the killer had built onto the guillotine. The killer cocked his head to the side, squatting down beside the basket. He reached out, turning the head around so the man’s eyes faced the sky. They were closed, so with two gloved fingers, the killer opened them.
The killer frowned as the man’s blood dripped onto his coat. He wiped it on his jeans, pushing himself to his feet. He walked back to his truck, started the engine, pulled back onto West Dodge Street, and started the drive back to his hotel room in Cliffburn.
6:54 AM; CLINSTONE, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, MASTER BEDROOM
“Are you going to the homicide scene?” Bo questioned, his phone pinned between his shoulder and ear as he pulled on a pair of jeans.
“What homicide?” Jacob questioned.
“Well, that answers that question.”
Jacob snorted. “What do you know about it?”
“Not much. Haven’s Park, something about another decapitation. It’s definitely the Executioner. I can feel it,” Bo said.
“Is it already blocked off from public view?”
“Yes. I made sure dispatch sent out officers for that. Jensen already headed on down to make sure no one disturbed anything further.”
“Good. I won’t plan on heading up there, then. Did you need something?” the lieutenant questioned.
“I do. Obviously, I can’t leave the girls here alone, and I can’t drop them off at school for practically another hour,” Bo said as he walked back to his closet. “Can I drop them off with you before I head to Haven’s? They’re both dressed. You would just have to make sure they eat before you drop Amber off at the school.”
“I can do that. Where do you want Kayla to be once we get to the station?” Jacob asked.
“That depends, I suppose. Are you going to be in your office?”
“Planning on it.”
“Then she could sit with you for a while?”
“Sure thing, Bo.”
“Thank you,” Bo said quietly, pulling a red flannel from its hanger. He set his phone down, switching the call to speaker. “I swear it won’t be like this forever, Jake. I just… We have to find a babysitter Kayla likes and trusts, that’s all.” He shrugged the shirt on over his shoulders, clearing his throat.
“Bah, don’t worry about it. I love kids, in case you’ve forgotten. Watching over two extras for an hour or less isn’t going to kill me,” Jacob said. “And nobody minds having her at the station. She’s polite, and she minds her business. The people here love having her around, even if they only see her when you all leave for lunch.”
One corner of Bo’s mouth lifted as he buttoned up his shirt. “I wasn’t aware of that.”
“That’s because you tend to mind your business, too. You take notice of different things, but you stay out of office chatter and water fountain gossip,” Jacob said.
Bo chuckled softly. “I suppose you’re right.” He squatted down, pulling open one of the drawers that held his watches. He grabbed one, clasping it around his left wrist as he stood up, pushing the drawer shut with his foot. “I’ll bring them by in just a few. I have to pack up my camera before I leave the house. It shouldn’t take long,” he said.
“Sounds like a plan, Bo. I’ll go ahead and start breakfast. Any restrictions?” Jacob asked.
“Nope. Do whatever you want.”
Bo swiped a black beanie from the shelf before grabbing his phone and walking back into the bedroom. “Thank you for this, Jake. Again. It’s deeply appreciated.”
“I know, brother. It’s no problem at all. I’ll see you in a few.”
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