12:03 PM; CLINSTONE, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, DRIVEWAY
Bo stepped out of the car, shutting the door behind him. It had taken him half an hour to convince Jacob to leave the hospital and come to the house to help with Thanksgiving lunch. Alice had been out of her final surgery for several hours and was entirely stable. Bo had, once again, given Jacob permission to punch him if something happened to Alice while they were gone.
Bo pulled open the mailbox door, a sickening feel stabbing him in the gut like a knife, twisting itself in his abdomen. On top of his usual newspaper, a small clay figure sat neatly. Although it looked normal, Bo knew it wasn’t. He knew exactly what it was. It was mocking him. It was a threat. It was another key clue that the stalker knew everything about him.
He grabbed the small, white dragon and the newspaper. Tucking the paper under his arm, he closed the mailbox, forcing himself not to slam it.
“What’s that?” Jacob asked.
“Just… something I ordered,” Bo said quietly. “Mythology, you know. Kind of my thing.”
“It didn’t come in a box? That seems irresponsible.”
“Well, sometimes the post office screws that up and damages the box.” Bo shrugged. “Nothing you can do about it. Come on. Your kids are waiting in the family room for you,” he said, forcing a smile that he knew looked more genuine than he felt. Jacob nodded and headed up to the house. Bo followed him inside, heading for the kitchen rather than the family room. He set the small dragon on the counter, glaring down at it, his brow furrowed as he tossed the newspaper onto the counter behind him.
Thomas walked into the kitchen just as Bo reached up to grab a bowl from the cupboard. “Kiddo?” Thomas questioned.
“What’re you doing?”
“Case stuff,” Bo said. He set the bowl on the counter and grabbed his phone, snapping several pictures of the winged dragon.
“What is that?”
“Informally? Clay. Formally? O Goncho,” Bo said absently.
“What, uh, what’s the plan?” Thomas asked. Silently, Bo set his phone on the counter. He yanked open a drawer and pulled out a single blue glove. He pulled it on over his right hand and picked up the little dragon. “Bo?”
“I don’t…” Bo laughed quietly, his teeth sinking into the familiar scar on the inside of his bottom lip. “I know you want me to say something super smart and pretend that I’m not dying inside, but I can’t,” he whispered, his voice breaking. The sad smile that had formed on his face broke almost painfully as he gripped the edge of the counter with his ungloved hand. His right hand shook for a moment before he slammed the clay dragon into the bowl, shattering it.
Thomas flinched before stepping up behind Bo. “Is that… blood?” he asked.
“Uh-huh,” Bo whispered. “It always is. It’s the pattern. It’s his M.O.. It’s the way… Oh, fuck,” he breathed, dropping into a squatting position, his head head hanging at his chest.
“Hey, hey, Bo.” Thomas slipped his hands under Bo’s armpits. “Up we go,” he murmured, forcing Bo back to his feet. “Talk to me. Who is it?” Thomas asked, gently wrapping a hand around the back of Bo’s neck.
“Thanatos. He… he was signifying the gradual ending of the world through mythology. It…” Bo inhaled a gasp of a breath. “He filled the sculptures with blood and then he started killing animals and then he started killing people, turning them all into disgusting human versions of myths. Carving up their flesh and burying their faces in their stomachs and… and…” He shook his head quickly. “I can’t.”
“Breathe, Bo,” Thomas murmured. He grunted as Bo turned suddenly, throwing his left arm around him. His right arm rested on the counter, his gloved hand hanging over the sink. Carefully, Thomas wrapped his arms around Bo. “It’s okay, Bo,” he whispered.
“It’s the last serial killer case… that I solved with Bridge,” Bo whispered, his voice quiet, broken.
“I’m so sorry, Bo.”
Bo shook his head, pushing himself away from Thomas. “I… I have to test this and… and do stuff. There’s a plastic baggie in that bowl that contains a note that I know has my name on it. So… I’m going to do that,” he said, a tense smile on his face. “Could you make sure Jake or his kids don’t come in here?”
“Are you sure you can handle this?”
“I’ve handled worse,” Bo said. “You know, like my girlfriend’s corpse,” he added.
“Sorry,” Thomas whispered. “I–I’ll go make sure everyone stays out of here,” he said quietly.
“Thank you.” Thomas nodded, lightly patting Bo on the shoulder before walking out of the kitchen. Bo pulled off the glove, tossing it to the garbage as he walked into the breakfast nook and unzipped his camera case. Out of the small space on the side, he grabbed a tester strip and the tester he used for blood and walked back into the kitchen.
He dipped the strip into the blood, watching the excess drip off and disappear back into the bowl. He pushed it into the tester and sighed quietly. “Lizard. Knew it,” he whispered. It stuck to Thanatos’s pattern, that was sure. The dragon-type myth sculptures had always been filled with lizard blood.
Bo set the tester on the counter and, uncaring about the blood, grabbed the small baggie from the bowl. It was much smaller than the others, only an inch or so tall. He rinsed it under the water, shaking it off before pulling it apart at the top and pulling out the rolled up piece of paper inside.
Are we hitting home yet? Do I need to go a step further to make you realize JUST how much I know about you? I know everything, Bo. I know about Jensen and the girls. I know about your… fatherly THING with Jamal. I know about your serial killer bestie and his detective wife and their children. I know about your uncle Tom and your dearest mommy and daddy. I know about your dead girlfriend and how she was your FIRST everything.
That’s the simple part, of course. I know about all of the cases, too, even the ones that didn’t make the news big time or anything. Do you remember Mammoth? Because I do. The media doesn’t, but I do.
I. Know. Everything.
Enjoying the story? Consider dropping a comment or a like down below!!
Love what I do and want to help support me? You can ‘buy me a coffee’ on Ko-fi!