Title: Sydney Sider
Author: Susan Downham
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 4
Senior Detective Tim O’Neil and his partner are soon embroiled in a serial killer case. The killer has a twisted and tormented mind, and seems to enjoy the torturous hell he puts his victims through. He is the complete embodiment of evil. As the bodies begin to stack up, The Sydney Morning Herald reports on the serial killer case, naming the killer, the Slaughter Man. The newspaper‘s powerful owners show how they manipulate the news to suit their own needs and fellow reporters show their own desires for career advancement. When the identity of the killer is discovered and the police descend on the killer’s home, O’Neil wants to take him alive. He feels apathy for the killer, knowing the hell his mother had put him through has shaped him into the skilled killer he has become.
The phone beeped as they entered the bedroom and Peter checked it. Elise sent a short message of ‘Love you too, leaving now.’ "She is just leaving work now, Anna, so she should be home by twelve fifteen." Peter undressed and climbed into bed.
"Good, honey, that gives you half an hour to make love to me."
"I'm on a timer am I?" He laughed.
Anna climbed on top. "Yes, husband, you are on a timer." They both laughed.
After a few frantic minutes, Peter stopped moving.
"Hey you, what's wrong?"
"Shush." He put his finger to his lips. "I thought I heard Elise's footsteps but she couldn't have gotten home so quickly." They both turned to the clock. It was only midnight.
"Are you sure you heard something?"
Peter put his hand under the bed and felt for his trusty old baseball bat. He nodded. "Yes I heard something." He too sat on the bed then they both heard a floor board creek out near the kitchen. Anna grabbed her husband's arm and held it tight.
"Oh god, honey, I heard that." Peter was straight out of bed.
"You ring the police, Anna," he told her.
"Where are you going?"
Peter picked up his trusty old baseball bat, and turned to Anna, his face creased and his heart thumping hard inside his chest. "I'll go and have a look." He disappeared out the doorway, tip-toeing out of the room with the baseball bat in hand.
Peter stood by his bedroom door listening to Anna on the phone and to the sounds of the house. He shook his head as he tried to clear a buzzing noise that was sending alarm bells through his body. He concentrated. There was nothing. He heard Anna whispering, barely audible, but nothing else. He held on to the bat, resting it on his foot. Butt naked and feeling cold, he was about to turn back into his bedroom and get dressed before investigating further when he heard the blood chilling sound of a loose floor board near the end of the kitchen counter groan.
He knew the exact floor board. He'd promised Anna several times to get it fixed, but it never bothered him like it did her. Now when the house was so quiet, it took on such an eerie sound.
Peter pulled the bat up to shoulder height, ready to take a swing. He took three small steps down the hallway, the carpet soft underfoot. He listened again. There was no sound but he knew someone was there. They weren't alone in the house. He took a backward glance at his bedroom, where his Anna was still on the phone and wondered what could be taking so long.
Then he took another two steps forward, his hands getting sweaty and his heart racing. His mind went to other crimes in the area. He knew of a man out west who woke up to find two men empting his house of every major electrical item and loading them onto a small truck. The burglars didn't know the house was occupied, and they panicked, killing the man by hitting him over the head with a microwave. He wished whoever it was would just run out the front door, with Peter chasing him out into the street then returning indoors to wait for the police.
He preferred that idea, confronting anyone even with his baseball bat in hand. He took another step forward and that was when he saw him. Peter swung his bat, but it connected with the wall and not with the man whose eyes drilled into him.
A fist came towards him. He ducked but not quick enough. He felt his head whip to the left, then another punch came, right into his kidney. He cried out, trying to pull himself up, leaning on the bat. He stood and faced the man, trying to make sense of what was going on, but he couldn't. The man watched him get to his feet. Peter was wondering what he was waiting for. Every breathe he took racked his body with a wave of nausea. He swung his bat straight at the man's face, and watched as the bat hit the wall. The knife came from under him, slicing into his ribs. Peter screamed out, as the knife was yanked out of his piggy white flesh and he grabbed at the wall to steady himself and then the knife came in again, this time through his stomach. He grabbed on to the blade, tried to pull it out, to stop the pain, but the man leaned into him and held him as he dropped to the floor. He pulled the knife out again, tearing the flesh apart.
Then he turned his head towards his bedroom door, his hand on the hole ripped into his guts. He screamed at Anna to run, but nothing came out. He saw her running towards him, his white T-shirt too big on her tiny naked body. She met his eyes. He screamed again. Blood spurted out towards Anna, like a huge spew. He put his hand to his mouth, to wipe it away. Dizzy and confused, he watched Anna fall on him and then scream and the knife gouged her back, slicing into her spinal cord, then twisting and being dragged back out. Peter felt Anna's warm blood seep over him, and he knew it was too late. He noticed the hallway slipping away. He closed his eyes, willing it to be over. His short breathes were agonizing, tearing at him. Then he felt hands on the cheeks of his arse. It brought him back for a moment. Shook him back to where he was and what was going on. He tried to get onto all fours, he had to fight. He pushed himself up, onto his knees, the weight of Anna slipping but still weighing him down. A voice called out to him.
"What's wrong, Peter, come on get up, before I really fuck you," the voice teased him but spurred him on. Peter was on all fours, the man he knew was behind him. He wanted to say something, to scream or yell, or make some noise, but his mouth was full of blood.
Then he felt his cheeks pulled open. He felt the rubbery grip on his arse and clenched and a pain he knew he would never be able to explain. He felt the knife rip him wide open, he felt the warm stickiness down his thighs, and he felt the knife twist inside him. He closed his eyes, concentrating on something good, something joyful. He saw the sun shining, the beach, the boys running into the water, Elise in her mother's arms, just a tiny baby, and him watching them all and knowing it was the happiest day of his life. He was holding on but only just, his breaths so shallow and the world around him fading so quickly. He blinked his eyes trying to hold on, seeing his baby girl in her mother's arms, hearing the boys laugh, but as he took his last breath he heard her voice call out, "Hi Mum and Dad, I am home safe and sound."