She found the first victim...
now she might be the next.In South-Western Ontario a crafty, vicious psychopath is at work excising the kidneys of the women he abducts. Doctor Claire Valincourt, recently jilted, finds his first victim and assists with the autopsy. But little does she know the killer has his sights on her, too.Relationship-jaded Detective Gerry Rosko desperately searches for a serial killer who is on a quest of his own—the hunt for a perfect kidney for the terminally ill mother he tends. Will Rosko track him down before Claire becomes his next victim?
The scalpel gripped securely between his fingers sent a delicious thrill up his arm. He laid the blade against her abdomen. The ease with which the razor-sharp edge sliced through the creamy white flesh triggered a response that was nearly orgasmic.
The woman’s inert body jerked violently with the first slice, her face twisting into a grotesque mask of pain. He pressed on the stainless steel instrument and slid it across the taunt skin. She twitched several times, settled, then became still. The drug was working.
He inspected her naked form–so beautiful, so perfect, so calm. He studied the soft swell of her breasts. He saw no movement, but the flicker of the feather he’d taped to her mouth told him she was still breathing. He glanced at the empty syringe.
Maybe next time I’ll use less.
He focused on her abdomen. Cherry bright blood oozed out of the incision. He picked a white cloth from the nearby table and wiped at the fluid. The fabric became saturated within seconds. He dropped the cloth. The smack of it hitting the cement floor ricocheted like a gunshot through the silent space.
Choosing a large towel, he draped it around the wound. Like long spider legs, blood scrambled along the towel tracing an intricate pattern on the white material. His hands trembled. Each beat of his accelerated heart rate hammered through his head.
He needed to hurry, he needed to finish before the blood stopped circulating, he needed to do this right. Sliding his hands into the incision, he felt a thrill as the heat from her body penetrated his gloves. How long would she stay warm once she’d taken her last breath?
A pool of blood filled the wound, obstructing his view. Damn. He needed to see. He pulled his hand out of the incision and used a dry corner of the towel to wipe away the fluid. The sight of so much blood sent a frigid wave sluicing down his vertebrae. He shuddered and reached for another towel. Within seconds it consumed the liquid gushing into the naked woman’s abdomen.
He pitched the saturated towel over the table, grinning as it thudded on the cement floor. Dark fluid splattered in irregular shapes. He glanced at the family-sized ice filled cooler sitting a foot away. Droplets of blood showered the outer plastic and formed unique ink splat patterns. What would a psychologist make of them? His harsh laugh echoed through the room.
The ice inside the cooler glittered like a mountain of diamonds–pure and unspoiled. Expensive, but worth it, the cooler would preserve his treasure for hours. He could use it for beer later. But he couldn’t think of that now. It was late, he needed to extract the organ and get it on ice before it spoiled. Then he could reward himself.
He swabbed the incision. So much blood. And the smell. He closed his eyes and inhaled letting the unique metallic odor fill him. His heart was racing so fast he could feel it pounding against his ribs. Suddenly lightheaded, he leaned into the table until the dizziness passed.
Hurry up. Get it out. Focus.
Willing his fingers to stop trembling, he forced himself to concentrate. He mopped at the pooling blood then inserted his gloved hand into the incision and probed her abdomen.
There it is. His fingers closed around the organ, so soft and slippery and warm. He lifted his hand. Resistance. Pausing, he let his fingers travel the edges of the kidney. Gentle. You don’t want to damage it. He palpated the thin cord of vessel restraining the organ and encircled it with his index finger.
Careful. Don’t be rough. You might bruise it. You know how important a good kidney is. You know what happens to the damaged ones. They can kill people, can’t they?
Sweat trickled into his eyes and clouded his vision. Using the back of his hand, he wiped away the beads of perspiration coating his forehead.
A stainless steel table sheathed in a thin green towel stood beside the bed. On it, aligned in a neat row, lay several shining silver instruments. With one hand cradling his prize, he reached over and selected a fine–toothed clamp. He slid it into the incision and guided it around the organ. Snapping the tiny teeth over the vessel, he occluded the flow of blood.
He left the clamp in place and reached for the scalpel. Lifting the kidney a fraction of an inch at a time, he paused only when he felt tension on the vessel. He scrutinized the razor-sharp scalpel blade–a finely honed weapon. He had to be careful. It wouldn’t do to slip and leave a trace of his own blood.
Inserting the scalpel into the gaping wound, he guided it beneath his hand. He felt the blade meet an impasse. With a swift slash he sliced through the tenuous strand. Blood spurted into the incision. Inhaling the scent, his heart skipped several beats and he became aware of the blood spurting through his own veins.
That was the artery, now for the vein.
He probed for the next vessel, clamping and cutting in a similar fashion. The cavity brimmed with blood and he couldn’t see. But now, it didn’t matter. He had what he wanted. He lifted his hand. He felt resistance. A thin tenuous cord stretched out of the wound. Another vein. Grasping the scalpel, he carved through the connective tissue and the organ came free. For several seconds he nestled the coveted organ as if holding a newborn robin in the palm of his hand. Its warmth seeped through his latex gloves. Below his hand, blood surged into the gaping wound.
He shot a glance at the woman’s face. Mary Jane, her driver’s license said. How plain. He’d call her Gabrielle. Yes, she was more beautiful than a Mary Jane. He smiled at the woman lying unconscious on the stainless steel table–her ashen cheeks exhausted of their normal rosy coloring, her lips and eyelids tinted a powder blue not derived by artificial means. Dark shadows ebbed into the fragile skin below her staring eyes. An irregular grunt of air erupted from between her lips. He had to hurry.
Should I take the time to stitch her up? Yes, finish the job properly.
Laying the organ on the bed of ice, he turned back to the woman. He ripped open a package of fine black sutures and deposited it on the sterile green towel. Attaching the suture to the needle driver, he threaded it through the mottled skin.
He worked quickly. Gabrielle wouldn’t care what her scar looked like.
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