Exclusive Look Inside: Killer Cop

Nancy’s foot slipped and the noose bit into her neck. Her feet scrabbling, she cursed her stupid sandshoes and their lack of grip. She was so desperate to right herself that she ended up slipping in the other direction, heel tipping off the back of the smooth curved tops of the arched mangrove roots. Pamela was screaming, which was more of a distraction than a help. She was still slipping, but through the blind panic, some rational part of her mind was telling her that she needed another point of leverage to work with or she was going to slip off the root and die right here. She leaned back against the rope and the tension of it, holding up most of her body weight at this point, was enough to get her steady again. She rasped in a breath and Pamela finally stopped screaming.

It was almost a pity that they’d managed to work the gags out of their mouths. At least for that first hour or two, Nancy had been able to think. Pamela needed to talk–she always needed to talk, it was like there was no filter between her brain and her mouth–but right now Nancy needed peace and quiet to work out what she was going to do next. She couldn’t even scream at Pamela to shut up; she didn’t dare say anything at all in case she needed her to be pliant later, in case she couldn’t work a way out of this situation.

The sun was almost directly overhead and they were both slick with sweat. It was midday, which meant that they had been here the whole morning. They were running out of time. He hadn’t said when he was coming back, just that he was. He hadn’t told them when they were going to have to give him their answer.

Nancy didn’t think that she was a bad person–she knew that she didn’t deserve to be treated like this–but situations like this made everyone a little bit selfish. Pamela was clearly panicking, she hadn’t made a single rational statement in the last forty minutes of rambling. There was an opportunity there. A chance to get control of her train of thought before it hit the rails again. He’d told them to decide amongst themselves which one of them was going to be sold into slavery and which one was going to live. Nancy could convince Pamela to be the volunteer to die. She was sure of it.

Instead, she stood there in the Florida heat, mosquitos and worse crawling all over her, and didn’t say a word. If she just had her hands in front of her this would be over in an instant. She could just reach up and undo the damned knot. The handcuffs had started to heat up in the sun, but they were already pinching her wrists so badly that she couldn’t feel the heat.

That moment when she was choking hadn’t been too bad. She could think of worse ways to go. She sunk down off her tiptoes slowly, letting her neck take more and more of her weight and easing the twanging of her hamstrings. They had cramped once already, before they’d even gotten the gags off. That had been the first time she had almost fallen. This latest wobble must have been the third or fourth. It felt like there had been more, thanks to Pamela’s ongoing narration of her own movements since then. Pamela was actually holding up better than Nancy would have expected. Maybe it was because she was closer to the mangrove they were strung up on. There was more shade, so Pamela wasn’t getting as hot and exhausted. Either that or the constant stream of monologue was somehow holding her steady.

The pressure on her neck was starting to make Nancy feel woozy. She didn’t need that, not if she planned to stay upright. Pamela had started screaming at her again, too, so she must have been going a bit purple in the face. She popped back up onto her tiptoes and the darkness encroaching around the edges of her vision faded away again. She drew in a few ragged breaths then met her friend’s eyes, to make the bleating stop. She should have kept on relaxing and let the nightmare end, or she should have spent the time she was investing in choking herself talking Pamela into dying for her instead. Neither option sounded very appealing, but if the choices were choking or tricking her best friend into dying, she was going to have to choose soon. Air and life rushed back into her, leaving a shaky high in place of the pain and unconsciousness that had been assaulting her. It really hadn’t been that bad; she could have lasted longer.

Her brows drew down and she gulped in a deep breath, holding it for as long as she could before relaxing and gasping again. Pamela was warbling on. ‘Are you all right? Are you all right?’

Of course she wasn’t all right, she was debating suicide or murder instead of sunbathing like they’d planned. Nothing about this was all right and nothing was ever going to be all right ever again. She rolled her shoulders and strained helplessly against the handcuffs until her fingers were turning blue and wouldn’t clench anymore. She finally spoke to Pamela, for the first time in what felt like hours of her ranting, ‘Listen. I’m going to try something, and I need you to stay calm. Can you do that for me?’

Pamela tried to nod and choked herself a little. ‘What are you going to do?’

‘I think I can get out of this but … it is going to suck.’

‘Can I … is there anything I can do to help?’

‘Just be cool for me. Okay?

Pamela tried to nod again, but this time the little choking sound she made drew an involuntary giggle out of Nancy. They both hung still for a second, then they both started laughing, verging closer and closer to hysteria with every passing moment. They went right on giggling until Pamela slipped. One foot came down off the mangrove root and she let out a strangled yelp before her air cut out. If she’d been quicker, she could have gotten herself back on balance, but strangulation ripped all the strength out of her when she panicked for a moment too long. Her other foot slipped off. Almost immediately, her face went bright red; it was the same shade as her spittle-flecked lipstick. Nancy was screaming like a fool, just like Pamela had. ‘Pamela, hold on! I’m coming! I’m coming, Pamela!’

She didn’t know if she ever would have found the courage if it hadn’t been for that one silly mistake on her friend’s part, but there was no going back now. She could either take a chance or live the rest of her miserable life wondering. She gulped in as big a breath as she could muster and then eased down into the noose, pressing into it until the rough rope was cutting into her neck, until almost her whole weight was dangling from it. Darkness started creeping in around the edges of her vision almost immediately, blocking her view of Pamela as she writhed and swung back and forth. When she didn’t think she could put any more pressure on her neck without popping off her own head, she lifted her feet up off the roots.

She swung out, breathless and dying just as surely as Pamela, but where her friend moved in spasms, Nancy’s leaden limbs still moved with some measure of purpose. She kept her legs pulled up and she ran her hands along them, struggling one foot after another through the hoop of flesh and steel that her arms had made, stamping them down hard to find the roots beneath her once more. Her hands were up at the noose, grasping at it and dragging of their own volition, but her own weight was killing her and she didn’t have the strength to pull against it anymore. Like the hand of God rising up to cradle her, the mangrove roots caught under her feet and she was able to gasp in an agonising breath. It was like breathing fire, but it drove the worst of the darkness away. She teetered there for another long moment before finding equilibrium and air that was cold enough to breathe. Her numb, shaking fingers suddenly had strength in them again, and with a few tugs she loosened the noose around her neck and dragged it free.

She stumbled through the snarl of roots and wet earth to her friend’s side, wrapped her up in her arms and hauled her up until she felt the life creeping back into Pamela. Nancy had barely the strength to stand, but she kept holding Pamela up until she heard her name being gasped. Then, between the two of them and the mangrove tree’s roots, they managed to keep Pamela propped up for long enough to get the noose off her.

They huddled together in the dirt, gasping and shaking for as long as they dared. The sound of a snapping twig, somewhere in the distance, was enough to have both girls on high alert. ‘Is he coming back?’ Pamela whimpered.

‘He said he would. So we … we need to run.’

Nancy had never felt so tired or terrified in her entire life, but with Pamela beside her, they started to run. Neither one of them could remember the way back to the road, but by silent consensus, they ran off in the opposite direction to the sounds of snapping twigs.

Every few steps, one of them would stumble or trip over another hidden root. The earth grew wetter and wetter beneath their feet until eventually their light canvas shoes were soaked through and their legs were lapped with dirty water. It was like the woods were still trying to swallow them up. If they wouldn’t be part of the canopy, then they could be part of the roots. Every splashing footstep seemed as loud as a gunshot, every gasping breath echoed out through the thicket. The fear Nancy had swallowed down while she was hanging from the tree, the ice-cold dread that had settled into the base of her stomach, was finally starting to take her over. There was no way that he wouldn’t hear them, that he wouldn’t find them, that he wasn’t just a few steps behind. Or a few steps ahead. The whole thing was probably part of the sicko’s plan. This was all just an illusion, there was no way he’d let them escape, not after letting them see his face, nor after telling them his name. It would be madness. Nancy’s wild sprint slowed to a jog, then she finally dragged Pamela down to a walk. She didn’t dare to voice her fears in case it made them come true. It wasn’t like he was just lurking behind that tree up ahead, waiting for Nancy to admit the possibility that he was there before coming out, but the fear had its hooks in her now and there was no coming back from that. Every step they took could have been taking them deeper into hell, and there was absolutely no way of knowing.

Darkness was starting to creep overhead when they finally heard a car beyond the trees. Pamela broke into a sprint and Nancy raced after her as fast as her aching legs would carry her. They saw the car a moment after they heard it. The strobing red and blue lights danced through the woods and made that final rush dreamlike. Nancy caught Pamela around the waist and dragged her to the ground, down onto the mud and leaves. She hissed, ‘Wait.’

‘What are you doing? They’re right there. They’ve come to save us!’

Nancy stared at the police car, her whole body filled up with icy dread. ‘What if it’s him?’

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  • kelly C watley

    Reply Reply September 12, 2018

    Wow !! Adrenaline pumping suspence..who is this guy ?? Do they make it to safety ?

  • Dennis

    Reply Reply September 12, 2018

    Sounds very interesting!

  • Dani

    Reply Reply September 12, 2018

    Can’t wait to read more!

  • Angela LeBlanc

    Reply Reply September 12, 2018

    I can’t wait to get the rest of the story, it’s going to be a “can’t put it down read”

  • Jan Funnell

    Reply Reply September 13, 2018

    From almost the first word I was holding my breath without actually realising it until I had to take a breath. This opening chapter is really good, it sets the tension and continues to ratchet it up with each sentence.

    If the rest of the book is this good it would have to be your best work yet.

  • Michelle Weathers

    Reply Reply September 13, 2018

    Amazing! Can’t wait to read the rest!

  • Jason

    Reply Reply September 16, 2018

    Lovely ! A new gerard Schaefer book, will definitely have a read.

  • Andrea

    Reply Reply September 19, 2018

    You left me wanting more!!!!

  • Teresa

    Reply Reply September 20, 2018

    Wow it looks like you have done it again Ryan.. Another good read. I was holding my breath but I now need to read more, can’t wait for the full book.

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