‘It had been four weeks ago tonight since the last killing.’ Thought young Joel Montierff a news reporter for The Phoenix Sun Times, as he set his suitcase in the back of his station wagon, and shut the door. The echo of the door had not yet died in the deserted parking lot when Joel recalled that it was on a night very much like this night when another young reporter from back east had been mysteriously mauled in the back of his station wagon just a few miles outside of Tucson, Arizona. The young reporter from somewhere in New York, State had made the sixteenth mysterious death within a twenty-mile radius of Tucson, Arizona. There had been a rash of mysterious killings for the last sixteen months---one every month on the first day of each month.
Every death had been identical in nature, they were all young men, in their twenties to early thirties. Up until the news reporter from back east, they had all been young Air Force men from Davis Moffit Air Force Base near Tucson. All the men were found in the back seat of their car or station wagon totally nude, with their throats mauled by what looked like some vicious animal attack which had ripped their throats open. ‘It had to be a horrible way to die’ thought Joel as he sat down inside his vehicle in preparation to head for Tucson to cover a breaking news story there.
It was raining harder now as he pulled out of the parking lot onto the wide street of downtown Phoenix. Joel thought as he drove along with the wipers keeping rhythm to the raindrops. ‘How much this night reminded him of that one case he had been sent to cover’ he thought, as he drove deeper into the ebony of the night. It had been raining that night also, when the Arizona State Police had found the nude and mauled body of that eastern reporter in his back seat. “Mauled by some kind of wild animal was their official report”. There had been many questions raised though about all of these killings. True, all evidence appeared like some kind of attack by a wild animal. Like the blood splattered all over the interior of the vehicle, and the ripped throats. However, no one had figured out how the animals had escaped from the locked vehicles with all the windows rolled up? But, the biggest mystery of all was---who had put a black ribbon on the chest of every one of the young, nude and very dead victims?
Joel had been driving just under an hour and a half---when he wheeled his wagon off the highway into the parking lot of an all night diner to grab a quick cup of coffee, and take a bath room break. As the young man entered the diner he was warmly greeted by a burley man behind the counter watching “Barreta” on the tube, who ask him.
“Need some hot coffee young man?”
Joel answered, with enthusiasm.
“I sure do! It’s raining like crazy out there!”
The burley waiter replied with the seasoned voice of a desert dweller.
“Yeah I know, it’s not a fit night for man nor beast out there tonight.”
The small talk went on until Joel had finished his third cup. An as he was getting ready to leave. The burley man made a statement that sent chills up, and down Joel’s spine.
“You watch out young man! Tonight is the night for another death! It has been four weeks ago tonight just after midnight; you know?”
But Joel had an assignment to cover, and he had to get to Tucson. Even if he was afraid as hell about going back out there on that dark, and lonely highway alone. He had his radio cranked up about as loud as it would go---just to keep his mind off things like killings. As the young news reporter drove along he thought back on his failed marriage of only two years to a lovely blonde named Samantha. They had a good marriage for the first few months or so until she went to visit her family back in the mid west. From then on it seem like she was distant and different toward him. Until it finally came to an end, and they were divorced. He was totally lost in both good and bad memories of their marriage--- until, suddenly, he caught a glimpse of something just down the highway about a hundred yards or so. It looked very much like a woman along the side of the highway hitchhiking. He was now close enough to make out the object. And indeed it was a young lady standing out in the rain trying to get a ride. Joel had no second thoughts, or fears, as he pulled to a stop alongside the woman and invited her to get in out of the pouring rain. She slid into his front seat without a word, drenched to the bone from standing out in the rain for who knows how long.
He could see from the dome light before she closed the door that she was a very lovely lady with long, jet black hair. And even though it was soaking wet it still hung fully, and well below her shoulders---as she shut the door, he heard her say.
“Oh, thank you so much for stopping to pick me up.”
They both introduced themselves to each other and made small talk for the next few miles when she suddenly, and out of the blue said to him.
“Will you be my lover tonight?” “I need a companion for this night!”
Joel heard himself answer the hypnotic voice.
“Sure I would love to be your companion tonight.”
As he though. ‘This is a beautiful woman, and after all I have been divorced for six weeks now, and haven’t even had a date, let along an affair. What harm could it do?’
Her reply came to the young man, very much like he hoped she would respond.
“There is a rest area just down the highway about two miles---if you will pull in---way in the back area---you will never be the same afterwards!”
After that kind of response Joel lost all reasoning, he had no thoughts like. ‘How did she know of the rest area down the road?’ or ‘Why was she standing out in the rain back there without any car around?’ All he could think of was hurry to the most remote part of the rest area, and have passionate sex with this gorgeous female. The ignition switch had no more than killed the engine when the lovely black headed female said.
“If you will climb into the back and take off all of your cloths, I will join you just as soon as you are ready to become mine tonight.”
Joel never questioned the woman’s motives who had now cast an un-revokeable spell over him. He slid over the back of the seat and prepared for what he thought would be the best night he had ever experienced with any female. And as the unsuspecting young reporter then said to his supposed lover.
“You can join me now.”
He watched in the faint light cast from a distant park light as the nude and lovely female slipped over the back of the seat with a feline’s quickness. Joel also caught a brief glimpse of her smile in the faint light. But, Joel saw something else! Victim number seventeen saw the gleam reflected from the park lights on her razor sharp steel teeth, and that her hair was no longer jet black but instead hung in long blonde curls.
His screams went unheard though! “No, Sam nooo.”
To late for Joel---she had now ripped his jugular vein, and was viciously stripping his neck of all its flesh. He could not resist her strength---she was much too strong for him. Joel now knew who had killed the other sixteen un-suspecting young men. And as victim number seventeen lie there with his yet warm blood of life draining from his body. He knew that it had been his ex-wife who had killed all of them. And, just before he slipped into the eternally dark abyss of death.
He thought, ‘What had she become?’
But Joel would never know the answers, to yet, two remaining questions:
Who would be the eighteenth? And, who would be the one that would first see his black ribbon, tomorrow?
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by Ken Harrelson