by P.J. Blakey-Novis
A picture-perfect family; Mum, Dad, two boys and a really pretty girl. They had arrived yesterday. I watched them through the trees as they positioned that new-looking caravan into place, under the direction of the campsite owners. It was hot, and I was sweating under my camouflage. But I couldn’t very well wear anything else and risk being seen. I returned today. I continued to watch, studying the way they interacted with each other. They all had smiles on their faces; not a care in the world. It was mid-afternoon; it wouldn’t be dark for another five or six hours. I could wait. There was no way of knowing how long they would be staying for so it had to happen tonight, I couldn’t risk coming back tomorrow only to find they had gone.
The site was perfect in so many ways. It was relaxed, especially from a security aspect. It was accessible on three sides to anyone willing to walk through the dense trees; the only vehicular access came from one long, unlit lane. There was no gated entry, nothing to stop the guests coming and going at any time that they chose. Such a stroke of luck that I found it; this will be much easier than last time. That place had turned into an absolute nightmare, and it could so easily have been my final time.
The build up, the routine, the planning. These were the parts that held the most excitement for me. The watching. It was like a military operation, and I was good at it. Even if the army didn’t want me. That was their loss, their mistake. Maybe if they had taken me in, I wouldn’t be doing this now. Perhaps that pretty family would have been able to enjoy their holiday without having it cut short. For an hour I stood among the trees, motionless, just my eyes moving around as I surveyed the other campers.
It was much less busy than the places I had been to previously. One side of the field, to the east of the entry point, it was filled with caravans, all nearly identical. They appeared to be the same size; four-berth most likely. I counted them up yesterday; eleven of them. Still all eleven there. I had walked by last night, a little after midnight, for a kind of reconnaissance mission; I wanted to see if anyone would notice me, but they didn’t. They never do. None of the caravans looked as if they were up to traveling, and it was almost certain that they were left there all year round. Which meant there was a good chance that they were empty, or certainly most of them.
In the south-eastern corner, there were three tents, large ones. Could have been ten or twelve-man tents, all arranged with the entrances facing each other, surrounding a square of windbreakers. Within the windbreakers were chairs, cooking equipment, and so on. The residents, whom I assumed were one large group, had been the only ones still up when I took my wander last night. Seven adults, sitting around a fire, drinking beer and cursing whilst their hoard of unruly offspring tried to get to sleep. Thankfully no dogs this time. I hate dogs.
The new family were as far from everyone as they could be, claiming a solo pitch on the western edge of the field. They must think they are too good to set up close to the others; and maybe they are right. Even so, that arrogance only serves to make my life so much easier. I struggled to pull myself away, absorbed in the game that the children were playing. I watched in amusement as the older boy and girl threw a ball to each other, to the annoyance of their younger brother who stood no chance in catching it. Eventually, he stopped trying, stomping away and calling for his mummy. I watched as the older boy, a tall, dark-haired creature with a wicked grin, shouted after his brother; “Stop being such a baby, you little loser!” The kid must have been four or five and, briefly, I felt a little pity for him. I stared at the older boy. You’ll be first, I promised him. Only a few more hours to go; time to finish the preparations.
I returned a little after dusk, following the lane but staying just within the tree line in case any cars drove by. No-one came along the dark road; all remained silent until I reached the entrance to the site. This was the riskiest part; the twenty or thirty yards that ran alongside the toilets and showers were well lit and stayed that way all night. The coast looked clear, but there was no way of knowing if someone was about to come out of the toilets. I just needed to walk confidently, as if I belonged there. I felt my heart beat more quickly, the adrenalin flooding my system. I heard a toilet flush as I took a few hurried steps into the darkness, just beyond the reach of the lights. Seconds later, I was standing against the western edge, completely enveloped in darkness, as I watched an overweight female in a dressing gown make her way back towards the trio of tents in the far corner.
I looked towards my destination and saw four people sat around a fire, their faces illuminated by the flames. The youngest was missing, presumably already asleep inside the caravan. My right hand reached into the deep pocket of my cargo pants, caressing the switchblade that waited there. Only for emergencies, I reminded myself. I took sideways steps, hidden by the blackness, as I edged closer to them. The caravan was positioned almost up to the edge, with perhaps three or four feet between the rear of it and the start of the woodland. I took a step back, slipping into the pitch blackness, avoiding the light which shone from the caravan’s window.
My plan hinged largely on one hope; that it would be a warm enough evening for them to leave a window open. If not, then I would need to force the door which, although not impossible, would increase the risks considerably. I was in luck, however, as I saw three of the windows still wide open. In the past, I had managed to get inside before the owners, hiding myself in the built-in closet of a larger caravan. When this one arrived, I considered repeating that plan as it had worked out well before. I searched on-line for the floor plan, located a suitable hiding place, and kept my fingers crossed. It would work, I knew that, but they were sat too near the door for me to be able to sneak in. Plan B was the windows, which relied on them not to close them before heading to bed. It’s a warm and sticky evening, I thought. It’ll be fine, just wait it out. Half an hour later, I watched as mum ushered the two siblings inside, the mean boy and the pretty girl, drawing the curtains. After another ten minutes of watching dad prodding at the fire with a stick, mum returned.
She made her way to her partner; a duvet wrapped around her despite the warmth of the evening. I watched from my position, alone in the dark, as she sat on his lap. I could make out a slight rhythm to their motion as they kissed, and I wondered if they were doing more beneath that duvet. I only watched, transfixed, certain that they must want to be seen if they are behaving like that in the open. I felt a brief wave of confusion as I looked upon them with both disgust and arousal, but their moment came to a sudden end with the call of a child. From the muffled sounds, I made out that the smallest child was awake, mum to the rescue as she headed inside. Dad, a tall, thin man in his early forties, gathered up the empty cans and tidied up a little before following her inside. It was almost time and the nerves began to set in, the twisting, knotted butterflies felt that they wanted to burst from my stomach.
Remaining still for fear of crunching a branch beneath my feet, I stood transfixed on the caravan, willing off the lights. There was no way to see in with the curtains closed. I checked my watch; almost eleven. The lights went out at eleven-twenty. The windows were left open. I took a step forward and paused. My eagerness may have almost led to disaster. If they were doing what it looked like, and haven’t finished, then they are probably carrying on now, I pondered. Give them a bit longer. Be patient. I crept alongside the caravan, trying to listen for any sounds that would indicate anyone was awake. There was nothing; no television, no talking, no sex noises.
I took one last glance across the field; only the large group in the far corner showed any signs of life, but they would not be able to see me from there. I peered around the front to check the coupling and found the caravan to still be attached to the Range Rover. I slipped my backpack off and unzipped it, straightening out the tubing and feeding one end through the open window. There were so many things that could go wrong, and I did not like not knowing exactly where each of them was sleeping. Nevertheless, it had to be done. I fixed my end of the tube to the unit I had designed myself and switched it on. The battery whirred, seeming much louder in the silence of the field than it had previously. I positioned it beneath the caravan and scurried back under the cover of darkness among the trees. I waited. Ten minutes. Then another ten. There was no change, no sounds, no lights coming on. Now or never! I made my way to collect the equipment, placing it safely back inside my bag. The contents of the vapour were my own variation on a recipe in the Chemical Warfare Handbook, utilizing the effects of a veterinary tranquilizer that should have rendered the caravan’s occupants unconscious by now. If the dose had been evenly taken in, I’d expect the larger people to come around in two to three hours. But that little boy would be a different matter; it could be eight hours. And that’s if he even wakes up at all.
I attached my small, homemade gas mask to my face and managed to pop the catch on the door with the switchblade, closing it quietly behind me. They looked so peaceful; the three children on a pile of duvets across the main living space. I crept past them, opening the first of two doors on my right. A toilet. I carefully opened the second door and found the parents in bed, a duvet covering them up to their heads, appearing as if asleep. Satisfied that all was going to plan, I clicked on my torch and began to search for the keys. Not anywhere obvious in the living space. Must be in his jeans. Bingo. I found them lying among the clothes he had dumped on the floor before climbing into bed, slipped them into my pocket, and made my way outside. I locked the caravan, despite being almost certain that its occupants would not awaken during the journey. Just in case, I told myself. Don’t want anyone jumping out and making a scene.
Sliding into the driver’s seat, I turned the key, allowing the Rover’s engine to purr. I couldn’t see anyone else on the campsite but decided that there was enough open space for me to move around towards the entrance before switching on the lights. Once I had the car facing the lit-up area around the facilities, I flicked on the headlights, and we were on our way. I had at least two hours until anyone began to stir and, to be on the safe side, I had selected a destination only an hour away. I was confident that it was far enough from the original extraction point and would also afford me ample time to get my guests into position. The campsite would not necessarily raise any concerns over guests leaving earlier than planned; after all, they had paid upfront on arrival so no loss to the owners. Chances are there would be a few days before anyone reported them missing and by then, I would be long gone.
Fifty-minutes later, I turned the Range Rover on to a chalky, quarry path. The location was isolated; dark and silent. The structures surrounding the path were parts of a disused steel works; great, red clunks of metal protruding from the ground, rising all around me. I dragged the caravan along until I was out of sight of the road, parking it up next to the steel barn which had acted as a makeshift staff room long ago. Yanking open the door with a clang of metal, the sound echoing around me, I went inside to grab supplies. One bag of cable ties and a dirty sheet, which I cut into five long strips. We were far enough from anyone that screams for help would go unanswered, but I did not want to have to listen to five people yelling at me. It made me anxious, and when I get anxious I can become disorganized and confused. But there was no confusion as to why I was there at that moment for I knew, beyond any doubt, that it was the only way that I could be taken seriously. The only way that those bastards who dismissed me as a freak, as not good enough, as an idiot – that they would know my name.
Cautiously, I unlocked the caravan and opened the door, slowly. Still no sign of movement. I began with the adults as they posed the most threat to me, removing the duvet and binding their hands and feet with cable ties, wrapping the dirty cloth around their mouths. Still they did not stir. I looked down at them on the bed, both fully nude, bound and helpless. My thoughts sank into the gutter for a moment as I looked at her; she would never know. No! I told myself. That’s not who you are. That’s not what you want to be remembered as. I repeated the process with the three children, all of whom were clothed in pyjamas, and stood outside to wait. Thirty-six minutes passed before I heard a thud.
Re-entering the caravan, I saw the three children still out for the count. It was the adults that had come around first, just as I had expected; their larger masses would have recovered from the toxin more quickly than their children could. I cocked my head to the side as I gazed down at him, naked and restrained, trying pathetically to drag himself along the floor. He couldn’t lift his head high enough to see me properly, so he rolled himself over, the gag muffling whatever obscenities he was attempting to throw in my direction. I allowed myself a little laugh.
“If only you could see how ridiculous you look!” I told him, enjoying my position of power. “Helpless on the floor, flapping that tiny thing about.” I glanced at his manhood. “Are you cold?” He writhed about on the floor in anger, his eyes wide as he assessed his situation. “Is that pretty lady awake yet?” I asked. This seemed to refuel his anger, his protectiveness becoming even more evident. “Oh don’t worry. It’s not like that. I’m not that kind of monster.” I stepped over him to check the bedroom and found her in the foetal position, sobbing as best she could with the rag in her mouth.
“Don’t worry, honey,” I told her. “It’ll be over soon enough. I need you two to come with me; I know it’ll be difficult to walk in your situation, but I’ll help you up and you’ll need to try. OK?” She just continued to sob, making no attempt to get off of the bed or even look at me. Rude, I thought, approaching the man.
“Looks like you’re up first then,” I told him, putting my hand under his armpits and dragging him towards the door. He wouldn’t stay still, which I guess is understandable, but it made the process difficult for me. I don’t cope with stress very well; it makes me itchy. Once I had his head poking out of the door, facing down at the three small steps, I moved behind him for the last push. He landed in a heap in the dust, groaning loudly as his shoulder made a popping sound. “Dislocated, most likely,” I told him. Still he kept trying to talk to me, perhaps to beg and plead, perhaps to threaten me. Whatever message he wanted to convey was in vain, I had made the mistake of talking to them before, and it only muddled me up. They’re the enemy, they will say anything to stop you carrying on with your work, they would kill you if they could, I reminded myself. I locked the caravan and dragged him into the barn, under the glow of electric lights that I had fixed up on the previous day. He scouted around the room, clocking the chairs. Five chairs.
It was difficult, but I hauled him onto one of the chairs, wrapping ten feet of thick, electrical cable around him for extra security. Now, even if he tried to stand, he would be taking the chair with him. “I need you to stay here,” I told him, leaning forward a little so our eyes could meet. “Do you understand?” He nodded, panic across his face. “If you move, I’ll kill someone.” Again, he nodded.
The children still did not stir, so I picked up the smallest. He was light enough for me to carry out without any problem. Only he didn’t feel right; paler than I expected. Shit! The gas was too much for his mass; I suspected it may be. He’s going to go berserk when he finds out! I told myself, knowing that I needed to get everyone restrained in the barn at the same time. I decided to put the little child on the chair furthest from his father, in the hope that he would think he was still only unconscious. I strapped him in under his father’s glare, but this time he did not try to speak to me.
The other two kids weren’t an issue; both light enough to carry, both only beginning to stir. Four out of five in place. Ten minutes, maximum, I had spent between grabbing the last child and returning to the caravan. In the space of those ten minutes, she had gone from helplessly restrained on the bed to having disappeared. There weren’t any hiding places inside, she was not in the toilet, and she surely could not have walked far. I glanced around in a panic – the utensil drawer was open. Could she have dragged herself to the drawer and found something to cut the ties with? It wouldn’t be easy but not impossible. Shit! Stupid me for thinking she was being complicit, just lying there.
“I have your whole family in here,” I yelled from the barn door. “I suggest you get here now, or I’m going to start taking bits off of them.” Nothing. I scanned around with my torch, but she could be anywhere. Fuck!
“Right,” I told the man. “I’m going to take your gag off. I want you to call her back here, right now! If she doesn’t come back quickly, then I kill him.” I pointed my switchblade at the body of the youngest child. His father’s eyes widened, nodding quickly.
“Helen!” he yelled. “You have to come back. Please. He’s going to kill Harry!” As he shouted these words, I heard muffled screams coming from behind me, the older children having woken up into this nightmare. I flashed my torch out of the barn door, revealing nothing of Helen’s whereabouts.
“I warned you!” I hissed, before standing behind little Harry and jabbing my blade through his neck. A steady stream of red sprayed from his jugular as tears fell from my prisoners. They did not need to know he was already dead; not that it would have made their loss any more bearable. I stepped behind that taller boy, the one who had been horrible to Harry earlier that day. Looking to his father, I repeated my threat. “Get her back here. Now!” Helen’s disappearance spoiled things for me; I felt rushed in case she managed to get help. This is not how it was meant to be and, if I couldn’t find her, then I would be one person short of target. Someone else’s blood would be on her hands.
Four times he called to Helen, all to no avail. I stood, once again, at the entrance to the barn with a torch in one-hand and a blood-stained blade in the other.
“Helen!” I called. “I’m counting to ten. Then you’re lanky shit of a son is dead.” I paused, listening intently into the darkness. Still nothing. “Then I’ll count to ten again, before slitting your daughter’s throat. You’d better hurry up.”
“Please don’t,” the man begged.
“It’s hardly my fault!” I told him. “You married a right selfish bitch! She could have done what she was told, and little Harry would still be alive. Admittedly, not for very long, but she did cut his life a bit short.” He did not know how to reply to me, staring instead, anger flickering in his eyes. I shouted towards the door. “Ten, nine…” I counted down, slowing a little as I approached the final number. Still nothing. She’s gone. Somehow. It wasn’t how I’d planned it, but the end result would be the same. Doing my best to appear in control, I walked up to that gangly youth and ended him with five rapid jabs of the switchblade to his chest. His eyes widened for a brief moment as blood gurgled from his mouth, and then nothing. Another life extinguished in a moment.
I turned to see his father attempt to run at me, ankles bound, a chair on his back, but he did not get far. I resisted using the knife on him, merely shoving him backwards with a crash of wood and a yelp from his already damaged shoulder. His daughter cried incessantly, but the gag stifled the sound enough for it not to bother me too much. I looked at her, staring a while until she turned her gaze from the floor to meet mine. She knew she would be next as well as I did, but the look of fear had changed to a look of acceptance, of sadness about something that she could not change. I felt something when our eyes met, something that I was not used to. Remorse? Guilt? I knew I was a monster; I never denied that. But I had an agenda, a target to reach. And it was not as if I did not value human life, or even that I enjoyed the killing. It was the hunt that I enjoyed, that I was good at. But I could not very well go to all the effort of extracting people and then letting them go afterward? I’d have been caught years ago if I did that!
Helen’s apparent escape had presented a problem for me, and this was something I had not prepared for. It had never happened before, but perhaps I had become greedy. Or just wanted it to be over. The highest number of kills, confirmed kills that is, by any British serial killer is twenty. Some lady from long ago with a penchant for poison. Of course, that crazy doctor confessed to killing over two hundred a few years back, but it hasn’t been proved. So I want twenty-one. That would make me the most prolific serial killer this country has ever seen. As I gazed at the girl, trying to identify what I was feeling at that moment, I thought back to the girl a few months ago; number 16. It was planned down to the last detail; her morning jogging route, the most secluded spots along it, the ideal method. I saw it as an assassination, a necessary target. I could not put my finger on it, but there was something about her that made her stand out. It could have been an air of superiority, a woman well beyond my reach, an annoyance she evoked simply by jogging past me that first time. The hit had been easy. I’d lunged at her as she passed some beach huts along a promenade, pulling her between two of them and slitting her throat. Then I was gone. Number 16. I just needed five more, and I could relax; it wouldn’t matter if I got away with it for any longer. If Helen doesn’t return, then I’m still one short and that won’t do.
“One, two…” I began, loudly towards the door. “Nine, ten.” Nothing. “She really doesn’t care about you lot, does she!” I declared, incredulous that a mother could run from her family in this way. “Well, she can’t have gotten far,” I stated, with a sigh. “You know I can’t let you go,” I told him, as he continued to grunt from his place on the floor. “But it would be monstrous of me to make you watch another of your children die. I’ll give you this small mercy.” I leaned down towards him, the reddened blade pointing at his neck. He fell silent, just staring into me in defiance. His gaze was fixed, even in death. The loss of life happened too quickly for his eyes to close, as my blade entered the side of his head, piercing through his left ear. The entire five inches went in, destroying his brain in a fraction of a second, gloopy grey and red lumps sticking to the knife as I retrieved it. He slumped to the floor, a dark pool forming around the wound. His daughter now having fallen silent; she knew what was coming.
I sat on the floor, talking to the girl for some time after killing her father. Not about anything especially meaningful, and the conversation was entirely one-sided, but it passed some time while I deliberated my options. What I needed to do was kill the girl and then find Helen. But in keeping the child alive for a while longer, perhaps it would draw Helen back once she realized that she could not get far. Only she had got far, much farther than I had expected anyway. If she had waited to return with the police, then my time would have been up; of that I have no doubt. And I would have been named Britain’s second most prolific serial killer, meaning that nineteen people had died for nothing. However, she did not return with the police. My one-sided conversation was cut short by the sound of tyres on gravel outside the barn; the space illuminated by headlights. I jumped from my seated position and waited to the side of the open door, knife at the ready, listening as car doors opened and closed.
“Jesus Christ!” I heard an older-sounding man exclaim. “We should have waited for the police!”
“I couldn’t,” came Helen’s distraught voice. I saw the outline of her figure take a step inside the barn, surveying the blood-soaked bodies of her husband and two of her children. She looked as though she would collapse, but she spotted her daughter still alive, and ran to try to free her. The police were on their way, and I knew there was little time. I stayed motionless for a moment, and this must have given the Good Samaritan the idea that the coast was clear. He edged his way into the barn, and I struck; quick, repeated jabs with the blade until he dropped to the floor. Helen frantically pulled at the cable ties that bound her daughter, but she could not free her. So I did.
“I only need one more,” I told them. I looked at the girl and told her to run. To this day, I’m not sure why I had the sudden change of heart; maybe I wanted to leave a witness to describe the cold-blooded nature of my actions, maybe I grew a morsel of conscience. She looked to her mother, as if needing permission. Helen nodded sadly, and the girl was gone. I stared into Helen’s eyes as I raised my blade, her face suddenly illuminated in the reflection of blue and red lights now coming from outside. My time was almost up, but I reached my goal with a swift slash of the throat; the warm, sticky spray coating my face before I dropped to my knees and placed my hands on my head. My work was complete, and now came the prize – the fame, the respect, and the notoriety.
You’ll be able to find this story in “Tunnels” (About to be released!!)
P.J. Blakey-Novis is a British writer living on the south coast of England. He launched his debut novel, The Broken Doll, in early 2017 – a femme fatale psychological thriller. He has written a range of short horror stories with his first collection, Embrace the Darkness, being published in July 2017. A second collection, entitled Tunnels, is due for release in November 2017.
You can find him on