Novels and Short Stories
The Dawkins Murders is a four-part opus that I wrote in high school in the late 1980s!
"Black Christmas" is Chapter One.
The Dawkins Murders: Black Christmas
“Attention, shoppers! The mall will be closing in exactly fifteen minutes. We repeat, the mall will be closing in exactly fifteen minutes.” The bass voice of the p.a. announcer was barely heard over the frenzied holiday shoppers. Sue Duffy was one of the many people who had stopped off after work to take advantage of the stores’ late holiday hours.
She glanced at her slim watch, taking care to step out of the way of the steady current of people that she had been unwillingly swept along with. The polished face read 10:45. Sue had not yet had dinner, and she longed to be home in front of a roaring fire with a nice hot t.v. dinner on her lap. Looking wearily around for a place to sit, she spotted a dark red wooden bench recently vacated by two scroungy bag ladies. Sue breathed a heavy sigh of relief and plopped down on the bench, letting her dozens of tightly wrapped packages fall to the scuffed floor. She was grateful that she had accomplished all of her frantic Christmas shopping in one night. It was so much easier to get it done all at once than to draw it out over several harried weeks.
A young man in a greasy black jacket was eyeing her many packages. The youth sat on a bench across from Sue. He had slicked-back black hair and a faint moustache that looked like it had been done with an eyebrow pencil. He smelled like a combination of fresh gasoline and cheap cologne. Sue shuddered visibly and looked away, drawing her pocketbook closer beside her and adjusting the prominent shoulder pads of her gray wool dress.
Their seats faced one of the many entrances to the mall. Satisfied shoppers were pouring out of the huge double doors, anxious to beat the rush of evening storegoers home. It was practically pitch dark outside, the only light coming from a high streetlamp outside the doors. A mixture of impersonal snow and freezing rain was falling, as she could see by looking straight at the lamp.
“Lotta packages, lady,” the guy sitting next to her suddenly said in a heavy New York accent. “You need someone ta help carry them?”
She turned to face him, brushing her long auburn hair out of her startled hazel eyes. Mustering up her courage, she replied in a hoarse whisper, “Yes, I do all my shopping at once. And uh, no—I don’t need or want your help. Just crawl back in your hole and leave me alone, okay?” The young man laughed spitefully at her and gave Sue a sly wink.
A tall, broad-shouldered security guard in a starched navy blue uniform strolled over to the benches. Sue picked up her packages and scooted over to make room for the well-groomed man, but he slowly shook his head and smiled. “Ma’am, I just came over here to advise you about getting home tonight. You’ve no doubt heard about the murderer who’s been stalking the parking lots of this mall at night?”
Sue gasped, glancing quickly up at a gaudy strand of gold tinsel stuck to the officer’s shoulder. “No, uh, officer. I haven’t.”
“He’s been prowling around the parking lots for these past few weeks, looking for young, sexy girls who are alone and very vulnerable,” the young man across from her explained throatily. An evil smirk crossed his face as she stared right into Sue’s eyes.
“Anyway,” the guard continued, clearly annoyed at the interruption, “I would advise you to be very careful tonight when you go out to your car. Do you have any mace or tear gas?”
“No, the closest thing I have is some contact lens fluid,” Sue revealed, feeling a red flush appear on her fleshy cheeks.
The sinister man beside her laughed. “Well, a lotta good that’ll do ya, lady. You need something long… and SHARP!”
Beads of tiny sweat began to form on Sue’s forehead. Her heart began to beat wildly. She decided that she had had enough of the bizarre, creepy young punk and gathered up her bags and packages. Clutching her massive black pocketbook close to her side, she smiled at the helpful officer. “Thanks for the warning. I’ll be as careful as I can. I just want to go home and get something to eat.”
“YOU’RE ASKING FOR IT, LADY!” the young man jeered from behind her.
With a determined motion, Sue strode purposefully over to the glass doors, brushed aside a dangling garland of deep green synthetic holly, and trudged into the darkness.
The harsh winds immediately whipped violently at her, threatening to tear her precious bags away. In a split-second her hat was ripped off her head and was swept off into the waiting night. Cursing, she stepped blindly off the curb and into an ankle-deep puddle of muddy slush. Squinting to see through the darkness, she spotted the faint outline of her tiny Volkswagon. It was at least 500 yards away, one of only about a dozen cars left in the parking lot. The remaining automobiles were giant creatures huddled desperately against the raging storm. Sue could see the glowing lights of the freeway in the distance and could barely hear the noise of the traffic above the roaring wind.
Taking a deep breath, she looked behind her. The warm glow of the lights inside the mall were only a memory as she walked further and further. He car seemed like a million miles from her aching body. She pressed on through the driving sleet, conscious only of the growling of the storm and the screech of the wind.
Sue thought she heard a noise behind her. She decided to keep going and ignore it. Her blessed car was getting closer, and she had to reach it.
Out of the corner of her eye she saw something move. She whirled around, ready to scream and run; but nothing was there. The parking lot was a desolate and lonely graveyard. Sue broke into a run, trying her best not to totally lose her composure. A healthy young woman is able to defend herself against attack, she silently rationalized. All she needs to do is think clearly and not lose her head. She winced at the literal translation of her grim thought.
Finally she reached her car. Sue walked around to the trunk, temporarily setting down her bags in a dirty pile of black snow. She fumbled in her deep coat pockets for the keys for several moments. Finding them, she took a quick glance behind her. A shadow was coming toward her from out of the darkness!!
Thoughts of the countless horror films that she had seen filled her head. She had no burning desire to be brutally stabbed or chased through the empty parking lot. Who would hear her screams? No, she decided, she should stand her ground and defend herself. Sue hurriedly searched her purse for the contact lens fluid. She quickly opened the top, ready to throw the liquid in the young punk’s face. Sue screamed a shriek of blood-curdling terror as the figure slowly came into view…
It was the security guard! With a joyous yell, she ran toward him, brushing away the tears of relief that were trickling aimlessly down her frozen cheeks. “Oh, thank God it’s you!” she breathed, throwing her arms around his strong neck.
“I was worried about you, Ma’am,” he replied, smiling down at Sue. “Do you need some help loading the packages in the trunk?”
“No thank you,” she managed to say, feeling her heartbeat start to slow. “I’d just appreciate it if you’d stand behind me while I put my stuff in the trunk. That guy we talked to back at the mall gave me quite a scare.” Sue turned back to her car and unlocked the trunk. She picked up the first two bags and put them carefully inside.
“Oh, by the way, Sue,” the security guard said from behind her.
“What?” she asked as she turned around, just in time to see the long knife begin its wide arc toward her chest.