Warning! This is a horror/dark fiction story so may be disturbing to some. There is strong language and sexual situations.
Hollywood, California – November
The newspapers called him Straight Razor Dan.
It was a name he neither liked nor disliked. For he did not read the newspapers, nor anything else. Neither did he watch television or listen to the radio. Therefore the name–only the latest among many similarly colorful appellations with which he had been tagged over the years–meant nothing.
He only hunted.
And he was clever. So clever, in fact, that the various police agencies and the detectives who had been tracking him for years never even suspected that Straight Razor Dan–with seventeen kills to his credit–had formerly been The Echo Park Slasher–thirteen confirmed kills–and before that, Ice Pick Harry–twenty-six–The Freeway Killer, The Malibu Stalker, The Mulholland Slayer, The Wendy Killer…. The list went on and on.
In truth, he did not know how many he had killed. Did not care that, in a land renowned for its serial killers, he was the Grand Champion, the King, the Undisputed Master.
He only hunted.
Because he was neither insane nor deluded–no product of a broken home or an abused childhood–his killing was absolutely emotionless and methodical, and thus virtually impossible to define or quantify in terms of modern criminal science. He had no motive–not in the accepted sense of the word at any rate–and therefore could not be psychologically profiled. He left no fingerprints, because he had none to leave.
He only hunted.
In his current incarnation of Straight Razor Dan–as in all the previous groupings of slayings for which he was responsible–he typed his victims by sex, age, race, class and location; in this instance, Caucasian females around the age of twenty, most of whom were aspiring actresses en route to or from appointments with talent agents or open casting calls. As The Mulholland Slayer, he had primarily taken teenaged youths from cars parked at one or another of the many scenic overlooks above the city. He took great care with each new series of killings to establish a different and distinctive “signature”, a unique set of marks or conditions that the slow-witted police who hunted him would instantly recognize and attribute to his current persona or personas— for he sometimes allowed series to overlap. In the Wendy killings, for example, he had preyed exclusively upon plain young women with brown hair, leaving beside each carefully mutilated body a cheap plastic statuette of the fictional storybook character Peter Pan.
As The Freeway Killer, his victims had all been lone middle-aged drivers taken late at night, their bloody corpses left in the trunks of their vehicles at preselected freeway ramps, the names of which, for a time, had seemed to spell out a long and rambling religious message for the investigators on his trail to ponder. In that series, as with all his others, the seeming irrationality of his method was, of course, only calculated to mask the true purpose of the killings.
For he only hunted.
On this particular cold winter evening a week before Thanksgiving he stood in the Hollywood Boulevard courtyard of Mann’s Chinese Theater, pretending to gaze down at the delicate handprints of Marilyn Monroe cast in the rectangular slab of concrete directly at his feet. The crowd of film goers waiting to be admitted to the second evening showing of the latest action thriller in the complex’s huge main theater swirled about him, passing to the ticket kiosk and thence to the long roped-off admission line stretching back down the boulevard. If any one of them wondered about the pale young man contemplating the famous autographs etched into the pavement, no sign was given. For in actuality, with the exception of the dark wraparound glasses and skintight black leather clothing he wore–both of which might be considered conservative in this time and this place–his appearance was quite unremarkable.
Slender of build–almost to the point of appearing frail–he might have been an aspiring actor fresh off a bus from the Greyhound Station a few blocks away; a youngster alone in the big city for the first time, observing the Hollywood newcomer’s time-honored ritual of visiting the famous landmark in desperate hopes of fortifying his own carefully nurtured mid-western dream of someday seeing his name emblazoned in lights across the glittering marquee.
Although he appeared oblivious to the mass of humanity swirling about him, his keenly attuned senses were alert to every nuance of the constantly shifting crowd. He had never before hunted in this particular place, though the prospect of doing so had entranced him for years, and the smells and sounds of so many vulnerable bodies crowded into this one small area was at once intoxicating and terrifying.
He was a wolf among lambs, a huge, moving, bleating flock of lambs, the massed heat radiating from the press of their warm bodies dizzying in its intensity. And yet he knew there was danger here too. For the seemingly docile mob would unquestioningly tear him to pieces if they even suspected his true identity.
He steadied himself against those claustrophobic thoughts, concentrating instead on the coolness of the ivory handled straight razor, the actual purpose of which was to mask the true nature of his killing, nestled snugly against the pale skin of his chest beneath the thin leather jacket.
A shadow fell across the pavement and he raised his shaded eyes to scrutinize the girl standing beside him. She was young, voluptuous of form with golden hair and pale, unblemished skin that seemed to glow beneath the glare of the lights, and for one wild, heart stopping moment he thought she might be the one; the female he had been seeking for all this time.
He allowed his shoulder to brush against hers, making the contact seem accidental. He felt the heat of the blood coursing through her veins as she raised her large blue eyes to look into his darkly shaded ones and the hope died within his breast as suddenly as it had been born.
For she was merely prey.
The familiar burning sensation rose up in his gut and he knew that it was time.
Time to kill.
He beamed his thin, handsome smile at the pretty prey and wondered as he had a thousand times before what had become of the one who had been promised to him.
The one who was like him.