Read Wicked Lies Online

Authors: Lisa Jackson,Nancy Bush

Tags: #Fiction, #Thrillers, #Suspense, #Crime, #Psychological

Wicked Lies (6 page)

BOOK: Wicked Lies
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“We’re not weird, or anything, like in the movie.”

“You just do stuff.”

“The seven of us,” she said. “Guess which one I am.”

“Well, what are your initials? If that’s how it works.”

“That isn’t just how it works.”

“So, okay, you don’t look like gluttony. I don’t really see you as wrath. Pride, maybe? Lust?”

Her own cell phone chirped and as if suddenly realizing she’d said too much to a perfect stranger, she jumped to her feet. She glanced around her shoulder again, looking like she wanted to take off and run, then glanced at a text message on the screen of the phone.

“I can’t remember the other ones,” he mused, but she suddenly racewalked across the street, as if she couldn’t get away from him fast enough.

As soon as she was out of sight, Harrison dug for his phone. He grabbed it just as it finished vibrating. “Hello? Hello? Damn.”

Glancing at the number, he didn’t recognize it, but when he called it back, it rang only once before a woman’s voice asked cautiously, “Frost?”

“Who’s this?”

“Geena Cho.”

“Geena?” Harrison’s surprise was tinged with caution as well. Geena worked in dispatch for the Tillamook County Sheriff’s Department. He’d met her when she was off work at a local dive, Davy Jones’s Locker, and they’d hit it off, but Harrison was leery of getting involved right away. Every relationship he’d had with a woman flamed too hot before he ever got to know her. Then, as time revealed each other’s foibles, baggage, and basic craziness, the heat was squelched fast. When Geena said she worked for the sheriff’s department, it was enough to cool Harrison’s blood even further. He’d kept her in the “friend” box with an effort, as Geena was angling for something more. She was one of the few he’d given his cell number.

“We got an escapee from Halo Valley,” she said quietly, and he realized she was talking on her cell and giving him information the sheriff’s department might not want to release just yet. “He injured two men, who were taken to Ocean Park. Half the department’s at Halo Valley.”

“Who’s the escapee?” He was already on his feet, yanking a reluctant Chico from sniffing a newcomer, a fluffy white bichon who wanted to play. Chico just wanted to hump the female dog, which was embarrassing to the bichon’s owner, so Harrison, needing the whole circus to end, dragged the reluctant Chico away.

“That guy from a few years ago who terrorized the cult.”

Harrison remembered the story but not the man’s name. “You got a name?”

“Hey, not yet,” she said, suddenly reticent, as if she was already second-guessing her decision to call. He couldn’t push her too far.

“So,” Harrison prodded, “this unnamed assailant . . .”
And legendary wacko
. One he could track down on the Internet as soon as he got to a computer. His current cell didn’t have those capabilities. “He attacked the two men at Halo Valley while he was trying to get away?”

“That’s what it sounds like. I can’t talk long. They all took out of here a couple hours ago, lights on, sirens screaming. Everybody thinks the psycho’s coming our way.”

“Who are the victims?”

“Hospital employees. That’s all I know.”

Probably another way of hedging.

“Okay.”

“Gotta go,” she said, almost as if she regretted her rash call. Then, not subtly, added, “Remember. We have a standing deal. I’m an ‘unnamed source in the police department.’ ”

“That’s right,” he said, though he was certain if anyone really wanted to know, Geena’s cell phone records would be a dead giveaway.

“Harrison?”

“Yeah?”

“You owe me.”

That much he knew. “Thanks, Geena.”

He wasn’t really sure what to do with the information. His job description, loose as it was, wasn’t about deep investigative journalism for the
Breeze
. Not that they wouldn’t run the story about this guy. A psycho escaping a mental hospital was big news, especially this psycho, who’d terrorized the area once before.

And Harrison had been given a jump on the competition.

At what price?
his skeptical mind nagged.
Remember, payback’s a bitch.

Shoving his phone into his pocket, he ignored the questions, snatched up Chico, who nipped at his wrist, then headed swiftly back to his dusty brown Chevy Impala as a couple riding a tandem bike whizzed past and the smells of caramel corn and grilled hot dogs reached his nostrils.

His stomach rumbled, but he ignored it.

As he reached his low-profile, decade-old Chevy, he was nearly run over by a kid on a skateboard. The skateboarder screeched around a corner and jumped a bench as Harrison dropped Chico into his little car seat. The dog turned around and bared his teeth as Harrison climbed into the vehicle. Harrison bared his own teeth right back, and Chico curled his lip and emitted a
grrrr
that would only scare another dog of the same small size on a good day.

Checking the dashboard clock, Harrison figured it would be just over thirty minutes before he could drive south, drop off the mutt, and make it to Ocean Park Hospital. He didn’t feel like fighting for attention at Halo Valley mental hospital with the sheriff’s department all over the place—especially Deputy Fred Clausen, whom Harrison had already managed to get on the wrong side of—but Ocean Park, where the victims had been taken, would be a better bet. He could probably get some interviews there.

His teenaged Deadly Sinners were being allowed a momentary reprieve while he tackled a different kind of story. He liked that. The Deadly Sinners. Made for good copy, and it sounded like the kind of thing the group—or this N.V. guy—had dreamed up, probably from watching
Seven
. Didn’t anybody have any new ideas anymore?

But Harrison’s mind was already switching off the thieves to the more immediate story. “What’s his name?” he said aloud, trying to recall as much as he knew about the strange man whose obsessions had sent him on a killing spree in the area of Deception Bay, a usually sleepy little seaside town, where his sister and niece now lived. Had the guy escaped Halo Valley just to be free? Or, did he have some new sick plan in place?

Psychos were like that. They didn’t just give it up as a rule.

Chico glared at him, and his little black lips quivered into a snarl.

“You’re not as cute as you think you are,” Harrison warned.

That earned him a series of full-fledged barks and bristling fury.

Ten minutes later, Harrison dropped off Chico with relief, shaking his head at the way the little fur ball leapt into Kirsten’s arms and licked at her with wild love, his tail wagging, whole body squirming.

She was standing in the front door of her cottage, the smells of baking bread wafting outside to mingle with the salty scent of the sea. Seeing Harrison’s expression, his sister said on a sigh, “I don’t know what you have against Chico.”

“Who says I have anything against him?”

She stared him down, and he gazed back at her with affection. She stood three inches shorter than he, with the same tousled brown hair, the same hazel eyes, the same lean body. She wore jeans and a dark blue T-shirt, and her feet were bare. Chico wriggled from her arms and ran into the house, probably in search of Didi, Kirsten’s daughter, who, by all accounts, should be in bed by now, even though the sun hadn’t quite set.

“It’s the other way around,” he assured Kirsten. “I love the dog.”

She snorted as she closed the door. “Yeah.”

“Really.”

But he was talking to himself as he climbed back in the Impala. There was no accounting for what went on inside Chico’s twisted little doggy brain, he decided, as he turned the car south toward Ocean Park Hospital. Kirsten’s bungalow was on the north end of Deception Bay. The town sat on a bluff above the beach, spilling over onto both sides of Highway 101, and was about twenty minutes from the hospital.

Twisted little doggy brain. Twisted psycho-killer brain.

He would bet that Halo Valley Security Hospital’s escapee was heading back toward his old haunts to pick up where he left off. That was how it was with a twisted psycho-killer brain. Almost instinctive, along the lines of demented decision making.

“What’s your name?” he asked aloud, into the deepening shadows.

And where the hell are you?

CHAPTER 4

T
he Vanagon had seen better days, Justice thought, eyeing the vehicle as it limped to the side of the road. From his vantage point on the bluff, he had a bird’s-eye view of the narrow lanes snaking below.

Volkswagen had stopped making them sometime in the ’90s or early 2000s, a more modern rendition of the Volkswagen bus, but they, too, had disappeared from the showrooms, replaced by Touaregs and Jettas and Passats and others. In his younger years Justice Turnbull had been interested in all makes of cars. It had been a passion. But that was before his mission was revealed and he talked to God, who asked him—
ordered
him—to annihilate the armies of Satan, armies being incubated in the wombs of the whores who’d been spit from the depths of hell and who pretended their innocence. Whores. Every one. Satan’s profligates.

They were locked inside a prison of their own making, one they believed was a sanctuary. Fools! Sick-minded, stench-riddled fools. Siren Song. With its wrought-iron fencing and gates. It could be breached. It could. It was only a matter of planning. And timing. He smiled to himself as he thought of those inside and what he would do to them. Theirs, each and every one, would be a slow, torturous death. Each of the witches would learn what it meant to turn on him; they would feel his pain. . . . They would burn. . . .

In time.

One at a time.

His nostrils flared, and he felt a little curdle of recognition that things weren’t as they should be. Not all of them were “safe” inside the walls surrounding Siren Song. Despite Catherine’s vain attempts at locking them away, a few of the more stubborn and curious ones had escaped. They, women who straddled two worlds and elected to stay outside, would have to be taken care of first, before the onslaught he would wreak on their filthy prison, where they huddled, feeling smug and secure. Oh, how wrong they were.

Killing them all would be simple.

Like shooting fish in a barrel.

Who had said that? Old Mad Maddie herself. His upper lip trembled at a blurry memory that wouldn’t quite come into focus as he thought of her. Palm reader? Visionary?
Fraud!

Eyes narrowing, he decided that the Vanagon wasn’t going anywhere soon. It seemed disabled, a flat tire, at the very least. Was this his sign from God? Was this his path?

He scented the air, his nostrils quivering. Their odor was like a pulse that he alone could smell. It came to him in waves, the scent of rotting meat. He felt almost faint with his last intake of breath; then he opened his eyes and gazed at the lights of the marooned Vanagon again.

Time to go.

As daylight waned, he moved carefully, near silently, down the hillside and through the gnarled pines and berry vines rooted in the soil. His mind settled upon the filthy witches he’d been asked to annihilate. He’d almost lost track of them during his incarceration because he’d been drugged and held inside a windowless tomb. And the concrete walls had made it difficult for him to track them. He couldn’t see them. He couldn’t even
smell
them at first.

Now, though . . .

They were easiest to smell when they were pregnant, and he’d caught the scent of those who’d lain with the devil and carried Lucifer’s spawn within their wombs several times in spite of the hole they’d tried to throw him into.

But they couldn’t contain him forever. He was sent to do God’s bidding. And God wanted the devil’s issue burned in the fires of hell. This was Justice’s mission.

In a dream, a vision of sorts that had occurred while he was in the hospital, he’d seen himself faking an illness in order to escape the prison walls. It had come to him late at night, awakening him with a start, the remembered odor lingering in his nostrils. He didn’t doubt that it was the word of God for a second and had followed the instructions he’d heard during a fragmented sequence of vignettes, images of exactly how he was to escape from the moment he’d arisen. His body had been covered in sweat, as if he’d actually done the deeds within the dream, and he never faltered.

It had almost been too easy. Dr. Zellman, that pompous idiot, had wanted to believe he understood him and the inner workings of his mind.

But Zellman had never suspected Justice’s innate intelligence. Nor had Zellman, the egomaniac, understood Justice’s intellect, his ability to read the doctor’s motivations. More telling, Zellman hadn’t counted on Justice’s raw animal instincts, his prowess as a predator, his keen awareness of how to lure in his prey before viscerally attacking.

Justice, knowing Zellman’s weaknesses, had pretended, and the idiot with his esteemed degree had bought it.

One less obstacle to worry about.

Now Justice approached the Vanagon quietly, ever watchful. Its owners apparently liked the psychedelic lifestyle most often associated with the Volkswagen bus and the ’60s, as its sides were embellished with hand-painted peace signs, rainbows, and images of girls with long hair that turned into vines and became twigs for doves to roost upon. Justice had once had a small replica of a VW bus in his toy car collection, but it had not sported the artistic detail this vehicle did. The Vanagon’s colors had faded over time, but it still flaunted its homage to the hippie culture.

As Justice appeared from the scrub pines at the side of the road, a long-haired dude with a headband and John Lennon glasses straightened from his perusal of the left rear tire.

“Hey, man,” he drawled in greeting. The van was parked in a small turnoff, and there wasn’t a lot of room for maneuvering unless you wanted to get a wheel in the ditch. The guy himself was smoking a joint and seemed to be considering his bald, deflated tire. He held out the joint to Justice, who simply said, “Marijuana.”

“Yeah. Weed, man. Good stuff.”

BOOK: Wicked Lies
5.51Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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