Chapter 14– Second Hunt: Blood Artist
“There is something I need to do right now, Cole… I’ll be sure to visit you again soon.”
Kazelle lays the bouquet of wild flowers in front of Colette’s headstone and turns to depart. The petals flutter in the wind against the grave.
She follows a small dirt path out of the cemetery and through the front entrance of the parish. A ray of the afternoon sun beams through the high tinted windows, coloring the rows of aged wooden pew lining the nave. She takes a few steps forward, the thumps of her boots echoing through the empty chapel. Straight ahead, there is a small altar in the middle of the apse, and just past it, a wooden cross mounted high on the wall with a thin figure hanging with arms spread. This is Kazelle’s first time inside a church during her adult life, and the aura of this hallowed ground is somewhat overwhelming. As she passes under a pointed arch supported by stone piers, she sees it out of the corner of her eyes.
She had said to herself before that she would have no need to make confessions for killing the men who committed such atrocities against herself and Colette, that it would be justifiable vengeance. But now that the deed is done, she is beginning to feel the weight of this bloodshed. She should… no, she must, discover a way to unload this burden if she is to continue down this path.
This priest, Father Silas Zacharias, must have known she would have this need. Otherwise why would he have mentioned the confession? How did he know? Did he also have blood on his hands once?
She slips under the dark purple veil of the confessional booth and positions herself on the wooden bench. On the opposite side of the mesh, she can make out a silhouette of the elderly priest.
“So you’ve decided to come after all, my daughter.”
“Yes, but… I’ve never made confession before.”
Kazelle admits while lowering her gaze, then glances back up at the silhouette.
“I knew with every fiber of my being… that the Mardsen brothers got what they deserved. But… the fact that I was the one who did it, and that it could never be undone…”
“Very well, my daughter, all I need for you to do is repeat after me…”
The priest nods knowingly from the other side then begins:
“Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.”
“Bless me, Father, for I have sinned…”
Father Silas guides Kazelle through a series of prayers, which she follows phrase by phrase purposefully, her eyes shut.
“…I ask pardon of God, penance, and absolution of you, Father. Amen.”
“How do you feel, child?”
The priest inquires as they conclude their session.
“A bit lighter, I suppose, Father. I was never particularly religious, so I’m not sure how I’m supposed to feel.”
Kazelle admits again, looking down at the cross in her hand. Father Silas listens silently from the other side, and then offers a word of encouragement.
“Your sins are not yours to bear alone. I shall bear it with you, and I will pray to God to give you strength to bear it as well, even if you don’t believe He exists.”
Kazelle nods contemplatively, then rises to step out of the confessional booth and exits the parish.
Standing just outside the entrance, Mother Rahab awaits her with that black folder in her hand.
“Congratulations on your first successful hunt, Gothic Ghoul.”
She hands Kazelle the folder.
“Here is your next target.”
Kazelle opens the folder and sees a photo of a middle-aged man with a balding head and bushy mustache, a look of despondency wears in his eyes hidden behind a pair of thin-rimmed glasses. She begins to read through his file:
(Darvin Radier, age 54, also known as “Blood Artist”, was once an aspiring painter, but his failure to sustain a career in the art world would lead him to resort to traveling from city to city, town to town, trying to peddle his mid-quality paintings on street corners.
It is believed that he painted women who he had taken a fancy to, and had a fetish for drawing them nude in helpless positions. He would have difficulty painting from his memory and imagination alone and yearned for a live model. One day, his opportunity came when a glamorous middle-aged woman approached him and took an interest in his painting. She wanted to know if he can make a portrait of her.
He eagerly obliged and invited her back to his studio- the basement level of a flat where he lived alone. He made her a sitting portrait, but then requested to draw her nude, which the woman of course rejected and accused him of harrassment, claiming she will report him to the police.
In a fit of panic, Darvin Radier pounced on her, knocking her unconscious before binding her, stripping her down, and painting the sort of portrait he at all times wanted. Afterwards, afraid to let her talk, he raped, strangled, and dismembered her, and then fed her to the many cats that often gather at his backdoor.
He sunk into a deep anxiety, knowing that the police will come and take him away any day.
But they never came. What came instead was a small white company card in his letterbox. On it was a black silhouette of a top hat and knife. On the flip side, a simple message written in red:
“The Rippers Society sends its greetings.”
From that day on, knowing he could get away with it, he begins to lure and kidnap women who he wants to use as his “models” and prop their corpses in seductive poses while he paints. He would prey on them from town to town, never setting his sight on more than one model in each place. And would at all times spread out his hunts in intervals of several months. Afterwards, he lets the cats dispose of the bodies.)
On one chilly mid-December day, Darvin Radier sits on a street corner in the town of Satinbury, trying to peddle his paintings with little success. The winter season is usually when he has the least opportunity to discover a prey. But on this particular day, he is approached by a young woman with long flowing jet-black hair and a set of the most alluring ocean blue eyes he has ever seen. The young woman saunters over and begins studying his artworks while Darvin Radier studies her body up and down: A pair of black denim skirt over her sheer, black stockings. A long black jacket flaps open to show a pair of beautiful milky white cleavage squeezed inside a black tank top. The young woman, apparently taking note of him eyeing her, cracks a bashful smile. She holds up one of his paintings and waltzes over.
“How much is this one?”
“Oh, that? For a gorgeous lass such as yourself, 8 pounds.”
As the young woman hands him the money, she smiles at him again, apparently taking further interest in his work.
“Do you have an exhibit somewhere for your other paintings? Or this is all?”
“Oh, I have a studio nearby! Would you like to pay a visit?”
“That would be delightful! Perhaps I can purchase more pieces like this one.”
He quickly packs in his stand and ushers his unsuspecting victim to his car. It would only be a twenty minute drive to his flat. In his mind, he is already playing out all the different methods he would bind and have his way with her. With this gothic appearance, a BDSM-themed piece would be erotically fitting… He could barely hide his rising erection as he fantasizes about all the different poses he’ll use her for after raping and strangling her. He pictures himself laying on his back with this gothic beauty mounted on his hard shaft, stripped fully nude while he strangles her with her own stocking, her tears washing over her black eyeliner as she struggles to break his bondage. He pictures all the erotic poses he’ll paint her corpse in.
His cock twitches excitedly and bulges against his pants as a drip of precum forms a dark spot, which of course has not escaped the notice of his front seat passenger. The young woman tries her best to appear none the wiser as Darvin Radier pulls his car onto the main road and races toward his trap.
“Here we are, my lady.”
Radier pulls in front of the flat in a typical-looking suburban and guides her into the building. The young woman glances about, taking note of how normal and unassuming this entire neighborhood appears. No wonder he was able to escape public notice for so long.
He leads her down a flight of metal stairs, to the end of a narrow corridor with gray-washed walls, and stopping in front of an unmarked door. He flicks out his set of jangling keys and unlocks the door, showing his guest inside.
“Please, feel free to look around.”
He gestures around at the room full of paintings and drawings strewn about. His visitor steps forward and looks around the room as Radier bolts the door shut. She eyes the artworks from one piece to another, apparently unsuspecting to the deranged artist backing into a corner behind her, cautiously picking up a long, leather strap hidden behind some paint buckets on a shelf.
Before he can make his move, the young woman glances back. He quickly hides the strap behind his back.
“Can you show me to the washroom?”
“Why, of course. It’s down there.”
Darvin hastily gestures at a door, and as the woman closes it behind her, he looms over the entrance, the two ends of the strap tightly wrapped around his knuckles and stretched out in front of his chest. A look of lustful anticipation peering forth from under his shimmering glasses. A sadistic grin peeks out from beneath his mustache.
Soon, he hears a creak as the doorknob begins to turn…
Before he can finish his declaration, the door bursts open and flies off its hinges, slamming into the waiting artist and sending him crashing against the far wall, scattering buckets of paint everywhere. He winces in pain and pushes himself up from under the shattered wooden door, his face and glasses covered in layers of multicolored wash. He tries to stand, but slips in a puddle of paint and slams to the ground on his ass.
“Wh… what the hell happened…?”
As he removes his glasses, what he sees in front of him is that same young woman, her eyes bloodshot and wild, pieces of skin tearing off her face, her gnarling mouth drooling with foam and blood.
“Oh… oh my god, who are…?”
Before Radier can react, Kazelle is inches from his face. She tightly grips his jaw and flings him like a ragdoll across the other side of the room, sending him crashing into a stack of paintings featuring his nude victims.
“So this is how many you’ve brought here, huh, Darvin Radier?”
Kazelle picks up a splintered painting of a woman in spread-eagle position with her hands bound to a bedpost, and then callously tosses it on top of the badly shaken artist.
“What I’m about to do to you won’t even come close to making up for what you’ve done to these women.”
“Wa… wait a min…”
Kazelle doesn’t let him finish. She leaps over and stomps his face into the ground, before reaching down and squeeze his head between her palms, her fingers driving into his cranium.
“Wa… wait… I’m sorry… I’m sorry!”
As Darvin Radier desperately tries to plead for his life, he can feel his skull starting to cave in under the gigantic pressure, squeezing against his brain. He flails about, kicking and punching and grasping for random objects. He touches a sharp object with his fingertips and quickly snags it, driving the splintered piece of wood into the young woman’s chest.
But there was no reaction.
She didn’t scream, didn’t jump back, didn’t let go. She didn’t even grimace in pain. The pressure on his skull only seems to grow more intense as blood starts to ooze out of his nose and ears.
“You can’t kill someone who is already dead.”
“Wh… why are y…?”
Before he can finish the sentence, there was a loud crack. The skull succumbs under the pressure and bursts open like a melon. Radier’s eyes bulge out of their sockets with a squirt of blood pushing them forward. He lets out a grotesque gurgle as his tongue slings out of his twisted jaw. Kazelle twists her grip in opposite directions, ripping his skull in half vertically and pulling them aside as the fleshly content splatters to the floor.
She lets the Blood Artist’s twitching corpse fall limp to the ground, before kneeling down and helping herself to the cranial feast. The blood of the dead man running over, soaking the scattered paintings of his previous victims.
By the time Kazelle arrives back in Easton on foot, night has fallen. She manages to use the back alleyways to return home, averting the possibility of any encounters with the townspeople. It would have been difficult to explain her blood-drenched garments.
Once inside the second story flat, she quickly strips down and steps into the shower, allowing the ice-cold water to purge all traces of bloodshed and loose pieces of flesh. She closes her eyes with her head raised, suddenly overwhelmed by the realization of yet another transgression: killing a man she has never met before.
Killing the Mardsen brothers was one thing. That was revenge. She bears a personal vandetta against them. But this was different. Here was a man who played no part in her demise, whose life she mercilessly squeezed out of his skull…
The z-serum has created her do things she never imagined she could, or would do. Unspeakable acts of carnage.
She collapses to her knees and drops her chin, the splash of water on her back suddenly full of weight. She stares down at her hands and finds the blood of her victim running forth endlessly, as if melting straight out of her own flesh.
She would need to visit Father Silas again soon. He would know how to relieve her of this torturous burden.
She steps out of the washroom, fully nude, and falls limp into the ice box, instantly losing consciousness.
When Kazelle opens her eyes again, it was already daytime. She steps out into the bedroom and sees a figure rocking on the chair, sipping a cup of hot tea and reading the morning papers.
“Well done yet again, Gothic Ghoul.”
Mother Rahab rises up, turns to her with that usual smirk, and tosses the folded papers on the small tea table. Kazelle glances down and sees the headline: Traveling Artist Brutally Slain in His Own Home. Evidence of Kidnapping and Murder Found in Paintings of Six Missing Women.
“This will surely make the Rippers Society think twice about what they do next.”
Rahab declares with an air of triumph as Kazelle gets dressed, then spots a small painting resting against the wall by the window. The nun walks over to pick it up, looking it over curiously.
“I bought it from the target.”
In it, an ominous figure cloaked in black, holding a scythe, bears down on a man shrinking back in fear. His mouth gaping wide open, letting out one final, inaudible scream.
Below the painting, the title: Death Comes For Us All.