Hello and welcome to the third of my posts about a brand new series of 13 suspenseful “Friday the 13th” short stories, each by a different author.
Today, I am happy to share Dianne McCartney’s “Vanity Kills” – Now available for pre-order…releasing Nov 13.
The subject of body-shaming has always interested me. I have a tall, stocky build and my daughter is on the other end of the spectrum, yet we have both suffered this behavior, mostly from other women. Those experiences are what spawned this story.
Detective Marcus Flint is hot on the trail of a demented killer. His initial victim, Carla Sharkley, is found with her body altered to look much bigger than her real size. Her face is made up like a clown’s. What bizarre message is this twisted killer trying to send?
Further investigation links her to a group of high school friends, cheerleaders, who were known bullies. Is the killer one of the victims of their abuse?
A search for similar crimes reveals several suspicious deaths, one in Marcus’s home state of Tennessee and two more out of state. All occurred on Friday the 13th.
When Marcus meets the lovely Eleanor Trask, one of the targets of their abuse, he is more determined than ever to solve this case. All bets are off, though, when the killer goes off script to reach his final goal.
Will Eleanor become his final sacrifice?
At one forty-five, he headed down to the morgue. Dr. Georges Appel, the medical examiner, wouldn’t let anyone in to watch the autopsy unless they were present from the beginning. A fastidious man, he made an excellent medical detective, never missing a thing.
He grunted a hello as his assistant set up the equipment. Autopsies were not for the faint of heart, but it had never bothered Marcus. His old trainer had advised him to think of the body as a box that no longer contains a person. It had helped.
The doctor entered the room, washing his hands at the sink before putting on gloves. “Your victim was dressed in size twenty clothes, even though she is perhaps a size six without the padding.”
He explained the reason behind the subterfuge or their best guess about it.
“People can be so odd. Is this his only victim?”
“We haven’t confirmed yet, but I don’t think so. We found a similar case upstate.”
“Before we begin, I assume you noted that she had signs of being restrained on her wrists. Probably handcuffs.”
“I did. Thank you.”
The doctor murmured his observations into a recorder as he worked, beginning with the surface examination of the skin, fingernails and toenails, taking scrapings. Y-shaped incision to open the torso. The initial blow to the heart had been the death blow. On examining it, he said, “Very deep, you see. Your killer is strong. The knife was likely a hunting knife, kept quite sharp as the edges are crisp. Maybe six or seven inches long.”
“Do you think the strike to the heart was intentional and the others were random?”
“Yes. He’s making a comment, don’t you think?”
He continued to work. “She didn’t bleed much after the initial wound, because the heart stopped beating. He accomplished his task very quickly. The poor girl never had a chance.”
Dianne McCartney is an award-winning writer, speaker and contest judge from Canon City, Colorado. Her books, Just One Night, The Daughter of Death and The Road to Justice are published by The Wild Rose Press. A long-standing member of the OWFI and The Rose Rock Writers, she has sixty writing awards from contests in Oklahoma, Texas and Tennessee.