He liked faces. He liked the symmetry of the round faces. He liked the arch of twin brows over vibrant eyes. He appreciated the delicious rosy hue that graced soft cheeks. He especially liked the smooth perfection of taut skin stretched over high cheekbones. His eyes scouted through countless pages in the large leather notebook. They were his. He could admire them all he wanted. No one could breathe a word of objection.
Oliviera sat outside on a bench facing the school field. She was awaiting her boyfriend's return from practice, a kobo e-reader in hand. She was absorbed in reading another thriller by J.C Daniels. He was a fairly new author, but she became his avid fan within a week of following his stories on. This guy could make the hair on your arm stand at attention with every sentence. Too bad, he only updated his stories in parts.
The story she read now was about a serial killer who was obsessed with disguises. He donned a new disguise, a new persona, after each killing. The police had yet to figure out what linked the murderer's victims in the case. In each killing so far, the department noted that no foul play was involved. Oliviera couldn't wait for the plot to thicken and the police to make leeway on their case. She suddenly felt goosebumps cover her arm.
Something caused Oliviera to look up from her e-reader. She couldn't shake the feeling that someone was watching her. Her every move. Oliviera bit down on her lip nervously. She was reading way too many thrillers. Probably why she was so paranoid these days. She got up from the bench and keeled down near her knapsack to deposit her e-reader in with the rest of her belongings. Just as she rose, someone grabbed her from behind. Oliviera went stiff. Going into panic mode, she stomped down hard on her captor's foot. Her captor wailed in pain.
"What the hell Ollie?" Yelled Jesse. Holding on to his injured foot, Jesse shot Oliviera a bemused expression. It took a moment for her to get her breathing back to normal.
"Serves you right for scaring the shit out of me!"
"Wait, now I'm being cussed out by my girlfriend for hugging her? Now that makes total sense," mocked Jesse.
"Look, I'm sorry. I just panicked, okay."
Jesse walked towards Oliviera and gave her a warm hug. Holding her hands in his own, he smiled.
"I'm sorry too Ollie. Will you forgive me?"
"Well, that depends, have you forgiven me?"
"Well, I've forgiven you, but I think my foot needs a little more convincing."
"Would a foot rub work?"
"A foot rub would get you a lifetime guarantee of forgiveness."
Oliviera gently pushed Jesse back and laughed.
"Dream on stud."
She started running towards the direction of her home.
"Hey, wait up," yelled Jesse.
Within seconds his footfalls matched Oliviera's. Holding hands, they walked in amicable silence towards their homes.
"Did you read the paper today Steve," Questioned Valerie.
"Yea I did, just the sports page though. Why?" Wondered Steve.
"It's just scary the things you read these days in the news. That girl from our church has gone missing. You know the one Ollie's age."
"That's terrible. What do the police say?" Asked Steve.
"That's not the scary part. It's an ongoing investigation. They recently found a girl's body in the nearby park matching her description. I hope to God it isn't her."
"Me too hun." Steve gently squeezed Valerie's shoulder, offering comfort.
Hearing the jangling of keys at the front door they turned to see Ollie enter the kitchen.
"Hey mom! Hey dad!"
"Hey honey, how was school?" Asked Valerie.
"It was alright, nothing special," replied Oliviera in passing.
Hurrying up the stairs, Oliviera threw her things on her bed and got out her e-reader. She could read in peace now. No one would disturb her until dinner. She had completed all her homework during her spare period at school, just so she could have the remainder of her day to herself. Flipping the pages to where she'd left off, she began to read....
Becky could hear someone else's soft breathing in the otherwise silent dark room. Slipping out from under her bedcovers she grabbed her phone. Turning on the inbuilt flashlight app, she let the light span across the length of the room.
"Anybody there? Hello."
Walking towards the closet with her phone in hand, Becky let the light flicker across the cracks of the closet door. Gripping the knob gently, she struggled to get her ragged breathing under control.
"Jason that better not be you hiding in there!" Her brother was known to play dumb pranks on Becky since they were kids.
Becky received no answer. Jason wasn't here. Hands shaking, she turned the knob. The closet door now fully open, she examined the inside. There was no one there.
Just as Becky let out the breath she was holding, a gloved hand clamped her mouth. She was pulled against a hard chest. One gloved hand kept her hands restricted behind her back. She struggled against her captor.
She could feel his hot breath on her skin.
"Don't try to move," threatened the voice.
She tried to stomp down on his foot. He was too agile. She missed.
"Shhhhhh. Settle down doll. It's going to be okay. Just don't do anything you're going to regret."
The deep timber of his voice brought shivers down Becky's spine. Tears threatened to tumble down from her eyes. She prayed that this was a dream, only a dream. That he wasn't real, that she wasn't being held against her will.
Pushing her onto her bed, he pulled out a handgun. Aiming it at her, he picked up a backpack on the floor near her bed. She hadn't noticed it in the room before, but neither had she noticed him.
As she watched, he pulled out some rope and began to bind her feet. Pulling her closer to him using her bound feet, he climbed onto the bed with her. Becky's body began to shake. Flipping her onto her back, he tied her hands. He then stuffed some scrunched up fabric into her mouth, securing it in place with tape.
Throwing her over his shoulder he shuffled out of the room. It was pitch dark. Becky's parents were away on a holiday trip. Only her older brother, Jason, was home and he always slept in the basement, which they soundproofed so that the family didn't have to deal with his band's practice disturbing their slumber on weekends.
Pausing on the staircase, he let his eyes roam across the living room. It was quiet. He descended the stairs. Once outside, he gently placed her in the trunk of his car and closed the door. Becky could feel the car being revved up and pulling away from the driveway. She sent out a silent prayer that help would come.
"Ollie, dinner's ready!" Yelled Valerie from downstairs.
Oliviera was annoyed at the disturbance. She was only getting to the good part now. She hoped that the police would nab the killer soon. It was odd, but in all J.C Daniel's stories, the police were seldom mentioned. If they were mentioned, it was with reference to progress in the case made by the police department, revealed through media broadcasts. Oliviera wanted to see a glimpse of actual police investigation in this particular story, like in the CSI Miami dramas she watched. She wanted the author to create a fictional police detective she could root for. She pondered leaving a comment for the author on the site with regards to this idea. It was worth a try. Putting her e-reader back in her knapsack, she rushed downstairs for dinner.
His fingers hovered over the keyboard momentarily. Within a fraction of seconds his fingers were flying across the keys. He could feel his excitement building. He needed a fresh face for his collection. Entering his login information, he skimmed through the countless faces bearing thousands of different expressions.
His nose scrunched up when he came across one particular girl's chubby face. He didn't like her face at all. It wasn't pretty like the others. She had a dark scar on her forehead just above her brow. Acne covered her entire face. He didn't like imperfections. She would never do. He only liked faces that were flawless.
His eyes roved over all the pictures that followed hers. He stopped at the picture of a teenage girl. His cursor lay idle above the thumbnail. She wasn't the conventional face of beauty, but she was striking. She had sharp features. A pronounced nose, well-defined brows, honey-flecked hazel eyes framed in an oval face. She drew his attention. He downloaded the image and opened it up using an editing tool. Her face was symmetrical, her features bold, and her skin flawless. What more could he ask for? He had found what he sought. His new face. He clicked down on the enter key.
The request was made. Friend request sent to Emily Foster.
Entering the schoolyard, Oliviera almost crashed into a crowd of students near the noticeboard. They all talked amongst themselves, concern in their voices.
"Hey, what's up? Why is everyone huddled around here?" Asked Oliviera.
"You haven't heard? The whole school is talking about this." Asked Brent, the school paper's student editor.
"Heard what?" Questioned Oliviera.
"That girl Rebecca Stanford, the one who attends the same church as us, you know her right?"
She nodded in acknowledgment.
"Well she went missing two days ago. The police found an unidentified corpse matching her description in the park and her parents just confirmed it was her last night. The person who killed left her body headless. They still haven't found her head and they've scoured the entire neighborhood. Some sick bastard is probably keeping it as a souvenir or something. I wouldn't go out alone if I were you."
"That is wack, but I can take care of myself thanks."
"Whatever. Just watch your back is all I'm saying."
"Thanks. I will."
Moving away from the crowd, Oliviera seated herself on the bench facing the yard. She was waiting for Jesse again. He had football practice today too. She never understood why he always asked her to wait for him. Practice wouldn't be over for another hour. Well at least she had her e-reader. She began to read from where she had left off before dinner last night.
Becky awoke bleary-eyed to the sound of a door opening. She was freezing. Her teeth chattered together involuntarily. Where was she? Her eyes focused onto a distant form bent over a large book. She rubbed at her eyes to get clarity. It wasn't a dream. He was there, just a few feet away from her. Becky's entire body shook. She couldn't prevent herself from whimpering out loud.
The man swiveled his head around to glance at her.
"You're awake. Oh good! Would you like something to drink?"
Becky simply stared at him, tears streaming down her cheeks. Was this man even sane? What did he want with her?
"Relax hun. It'll all be over soon. Get comfortable. You won't feel a thing. I promise."
"Please don't hurt me," wailed Becky.
"I'm afraid I can't let you live sweetie. We wouldn't want those damn cops crawling around this place, now would we? Don't worry, it'll be quick."
Bound by rope, Becky was immobile. Her sobs became louder.
"Please let me go. If you let me go, I won't tell a soul about you. Just let me go! Please. I beg you."
"Oh Becky! Don't cry. You're making me feel bad."
"Who the hell are you?" Yelled Becky between sobs.
"You don't recognize me eh? May be this will jog your memory.
Walking towards a cabinet, he opened the doors and pulled something out. His back was to Becky. When he turned around she couldn't help but gasp. He moved closer, his gloved hands clenching something.
Before she could digest anything he grabbed her and injected something into her neck. She felt her eyelids droop.
Raising her eyes from the e-book, Oliviera shuddered. He was so weird. Oliviera hadn't known the victim knew her killer. Most victims knew their killers according to her Uncle Jake, who was in the police department. Had the protagonist murdered the girl or was she simply unconscious? The author hadn't revealed that. Perhaps it would be in his next update.
She felt a hand on her shoulder. She turned to see her boyfriend looking at her funny.
"What?" Asked Oliviera.
"You're okay? You look kind of disturbed. Like you aren't quite here."
"I'm fine smart Alec."
"Hey, just trying to be an attentive boyfriend here!" Jesse held his hands up as if in surrender.
"You want to be an attentive boyfriend, buy me some snacks, I'm bloody hungry."
"At once milady. This way please." Jesse extended his arm for Oliviera to snag onto.
Laughing Oliviera looped her arm into her boyfriend's outstretched one and rested her head on his shoulder, as they walked in the direction of the nearest fast-food place.