Preordained is a supernatural mystery thriller about a cop in Murrell’s Inlet, SC who’s seeking to solve a serial murder case that has biblical undertones.
Operating under his self-appointed moniker, the Star of David Killer taunts lead detective Art Somers, the Georgetown County Sherriff’s Office, and the FBI, who are all attempting to solve the serial case. In the killer’s mind, his father preordained the abductions and murders. They are his way of fulfilling prophecy.
Detective Art Somers has never given much credence to the local superstitious or religious beliefs in his county, but while working to solve the case, he starts to have paranormal visions that compel him to question his own sanity. It’s as if something or someone in the spirit world is attempting to communicate with him.
His partner and love interest, detective Angela Hunter, sees things differently. She believes deeply in the supernatural, just like many in their county. As unexplained paranormal events and missing timeframes invade Art’s life, Angela helps him deal with the unthinkable reality that the serial killer they’re looking for could be Art himself.
Who’s the killer? Art? Someone else? Join Art and Angela in this mind-bending whodunit and uncover an irrefutable truth that neither of them wanted to face.
“A riveting and intriguing read.” - Clarion Review
“A gripping detective story.” - Kirkus Reviews
“Original and engaging.” - Publisher’s Weekly
Read an Excerpt
From his crouched position in the woods of rural Georgetown County, South Carolina, and under the echo of his heavy breathing in the night air, he watched his favorite family's movements inside their small brown home.
After much thought about the impression his outfit would make, he'd decided it was festive enough for the occasion. The complete ensemble consisted of a red and black head mask, aligned perfectly to the holes for his eyes, nose, and mouth and a form-fitting, black bodysuit with white wings painted on the back.
For years, he'd contemplated a befitting name for himself and finally settled on Star of David killer. He liked the way the alias reverberated in his head. It revealed a lot. It concealed everything. It hinted at his purpose and yet – it withheld the true essence of his aspirations, keeping them covered in a shroud of secrecy. He hoped an insightful reporter would have an epiphany and bestow that nickname on him. It was far more interesting than the one his parents had given him at birth. He breathed deep and exhaled slowly, taking in the ambience of the moment. He flexed his muscles. It was time to initiate the events that would lead everyone to recognize him by his self-appointed moniker.
He clenched and released his toes on each of his hospital footie–covered feet. Through the sheer curtains of the dimly lit dwelling, he watched the boy pick up the used plates from the table, which signaled the parents and their twelve-year-old son had finished their dinner. He knew them well. He'd cased their dwelling for years, observing every nuance of their behavior. He sat flushed as he watched them for the last time, shivering from time to time from the thrill of the thought of what he was about to do.
The music of the bullfrogs kept him company, along with the thought that all he'd longed for, all that he was meant to be, was about to be on full display on the world stage in a matter of hours. Like Heinz ketchup, he'd been waiting in anticipation for a long time for this moment.
He glanced at the scavengers in the clear sky above him, each casting its shadow across the moon as it circled. They were his favorite creatures — the redheaded, black-feathered, and partially white-winged turkey vultures of the Carolina skies. His outfit mimicked theirs. The birds squawked in the sky, seeming to know his plan for that evening. They'd followed his vehicle from his home until he'd parked, and now they circled directly above him. He could feel their hunger and impatience.
The boy walked outside his home and scraped the remains of their dinner plates into a slop bucket on the back porch. He picked up the hog's food and headed out to the pigpen, which was located near the backend of their yard.
The Star of David killer watched the boy make his evening trek on pigeon-toed feet that turned inward with each step. Ever since the infant pigs were born, the boy fed the adult male hog an extra feeding at night to prevent him from dining on his offspring. That's right, the daddy hog actually ate his own children. What a disgusting breed of animal.
The overhead undertakers began to shriek and shrill as the boy moved across his lawn, their voices echoing in the night.
The boy jumped at their sound and looked to the skies. He stared into the woods directly below them.
The Star of David killer remained as still as a stone as the kid's gaze seemed to linger on him for a moment. The last thing he needed was for the boy to detect his presence and yell out for his daddy. The papa of the family had an itchy twelve-gauge finger that he didn't want to deal with that evening.
Seemingly satisfied, the boy stopped searching the woods and continued his walk.
The Star of David Killer glanced overhead at the vultures, angry with them for almost giving away his position. For their carelessness, they wouldn't be feeding on his handiwork that evening, and if they didn't atone for their misstep, they wouldn't partake in any of the festivities on his planned itinerary.
This was the first night — the evening of his coming-out party and the kickoff of his personal pilgrimage. It was the acknowledgment that the presence within him, who had compelled him to plan and now execute the initial steps of his mission, had chosen the right vehicle for the job.
He felt something biting him on his lower legs. Glancing down, he saw by the light of the rear porch that ants were advancing up his calves. He remained silent and didn't move, not wanting to sound the alarm that he was out there in the dark. A small green garden snake slithered out of the brush toward him. He stepped on it and crushed its head.
The grunting male hog reveled in the slop the boy had dumped into his pen. The female hog stood to the side with her five remaining piglets cowering under her.
The killer frowned at the stench of the hogs. It wasn't the last smell he wanted on his mind before he began his body of work. To get past it, he closed his eyes and thought of the fragrances inside the boy's family home, smells that he knew all too well. He'd spent many nights there while they slept, enjoying their scents, with his favorites being the individual smell of each of their worn clothing. The laundry room was a treasure trove of delights. Each of the family members left their own unique and enjoyable stains in their underwear. He'd gotten to know the other families in just as much detail, meticulously taking in their routines and schedules, getting to know every nuance of each of them.
He removed his blade from his waistband and watched Rueben, his first victim, as he rinsed out the slop bucket with a water hose attached to the rear of his home. He squeezed the black-handled blade. The paring knife felt perfect in his hand, after having gone through an exhaustive testing process to find the right cutting instrument — one with just the right shape and size for optimal carving control against a moving body. He'd practiced his skills with it for many hours, initially on cantaloupes, cucumbers, and other fruits and vegetables, until he'd graduated to successful tests on small gerbils, kittens, and puppies he'd purchased at various pet stores.
Finally, the lights went out in the shack. It was time. As usual, Rueben's parents were more than likely already fast asleep. Rueben, on the other hand, should be wide-awake in his darkened room, surfing Internet porn sites by the light of his laptop. The little fella loved to look at online pussy, but he wouldn't live long enough to enjoy any.
As the final step of his preparation process, he extracted a bottle of removable glue from the front waistband of his outfit and placed another coat over his hands. It was an additional layer to guard against him leaving fingerprints behind, but he knew he didn't need to worry on that score. Over the past year, he'd used razor blades every month to remove the top layer of skin on each of his fingertips, making them as smooth as a baby's ass.
He had no fingerprints.
He could've easily used gloves, but he wanted to touch them, to feel his prey with his bare hands. He blew on the glue until it dried. Satisfied, he stood, stretched his legs and approached Rueben's home on silent feet.
He hadn't troubled himself to brush the ants from his lower torso. The stinging sensation of their bites would serve as a reminder that before that evening, he was once human.CHAPTER 2
In the quaint, historic city of Murrell's Inlet, South Carolina, at the onset of a torrential downpour, thirty-five-year-old detective Art Somers rolled up the driver's side window of his blue, classic Camaro and turned on his wipers. He took inventory of himself in his rearview mirror: his black mane of shoulder-length hair that offset his olive skin, the shadow of a beard that now graced his face, and more troubling, his bloodshot eyes. He hadn't slept much lately and it showed. How much longer was it going to take the FBI boys to capture the serial nutcase operating in their midst?
Within a span of twenty-one days, someone had kidnapped and slaughtered multiple twelve-year-old boys in his county and eluded all capture efforts. He gripped his steering wheel tighter. The only good news, if you could call it that, was that the bastard hadn't struck in Murrell's Inlet.
He stared at his former neighbor's sons, who were playing a game of pickup football on the dirt field to his left. One of those boys — or even his own son, Ben — could be the killer's next target if Murrell's Inlet became his next city of choice. He breathed deep. Not even the fishy fragrance of the nearby Atlantic waters he loved so much, did anything to improve his frame of mind.
A cluster of lightning bolts illuminated the darkened, cloud-filled morning sky, followed immediately by booming thunder that echoed in the distance. Overhead, seagulls darted away as the winds picked up.
Every locale within his county was on edge because the killer only struck within the confines of Georgetown County and always in a different city. For all he knew, his town could be next. He reached over to his front passenger seat and rested his palm on the printout of the FBI serial profiling article. Under captain's orders, every detective in the station house had spent the past two weeks boning up on the behavior patterns of serial killers.
He flexed the muscles in his arms and looked at his Navy SEAL tattoos. He had no clue what to do if that sick bastard showed up in Murrell's Inlet. He was too new at being a detective and some were questioning why the captain had promoted him in the first place. Following up on an obscure lead, he'd taken the initiative and pursued and captured a couple of long-sought backwater drug dealers, a feat that catapulted him from the rank and file into the role he now held. Another contributing factor for his promotion could've been that his captain was also a former Navy SEAL. Reading the FBI profiling article hadn't made him feel any better. He hoped he'd never cross paths with the sick freak.
He wheeled his Camaro into the driveway of his former home, a light green, two-story, southern vernacular. It had a pool in the backyard that he'd put in himself. He sat behind the wheel for a moment under the overhanging branches of the angel hair oak tree his ex-wife had planted long ago in honor of their son Ben's birth.
He ran his hands through his long, wavy hair and climbed out, wearing worn, faded jeans and a burgundy T-shirt that worked well with his muscular, tanned frame. The rain soaked him as he jogged through the piles of wet leaves that covered the lawn. He stepped onto the covered porch and was about to knock when Judith, his ex-wife, swung the door open.
His son, Ben, with dark hair and piercing, dark eyes just like his, dressed in his white baseball uniform with burgundy letters that read Gamecocks, dashed by him toward the car carrying his cell phone. "Hey, Dad."
"Whoa. Hey, Sport. If this rain doesn't break, they may cancel the game."
"Let's go," Ben said and climbed into the front passenger seat.
Judith stood in the doorway in a revealing pink nightie. She was breathing heavily, as though she'd just finished a vigorous workout. She was thirty-four, with shoulder-length blond hair and enough sexual energy to raise the dead. "It's about time you showed up. Benjamin is being disrespectful to my guest."
"A killer who's randomly taking boys our son's age is kind of a priority, don't you think?"
"You don't even know if he'll come this way," Judith said.
"A good scout is always prepared."
"Maybe you should prepare by going to church sometimes and praying about it."
"I'll pretend that church means something to you, just as soon as you stop placing hairs of your enemies in those jars of yours."
A young black man with a shaved head and chiseled body — and more than likely the source of Judith's workout — joined her at the door. He expanded his chest and stood straight at the sight of Art.
Art shook his head. Yet another boy-toy around his son. "You think Ben's disrespect has something to do with your choice of guests?" He frowned. "Let him come live with me."
She stared at him. "I told you, I need the child support — and I'd miss him."
"Two years of monthly child support checks — even if he's with me."
There was a moment of silence as Judith seemed to consider his offer. She glanced at her boy-toy, whose arm now rested across her shoulder. "We'll be back from vacation soon."
"Think about my offer."
She kissed her boy-toy deeply, pursed her lips at Art, and then slammed the door in his face.
"Bitch," he said under his breath to the closed door. What in hell had he been thinking having unprotected sex with her? He strode back to his car, climbed in, and screeched his tires as he backed out of the driveway. He turned on his windshield wipers and tore off down the wet street. He glanced at his son, who was watching him. He slowed to the posted speed limit.
Ben tossed the FBI serial profiling article in his lap onto the backseat. He pulled his cell phone out of his front pocket and pressed buttons. He rocked his head back and forth to his music selection. "What were you and Mom talking about?"
Art glanced at Ben. "Life, son — things you deal with in life."
"Mom said call him 'Dad.'"
Art pressed the brake pedal, coming to a complete stopped in the middle of the street. He stared at his son. "Who?"
"Her new boyfriend, Clarence."
Art tensed. He pressed the gas and proceeded down the road. "I'm your father."
"I know, Dad."
They rode on in silence. His son's words had cut deep.CHAPTER 3
With the heavy rain and bad weather behind them, an unusually bright and hot October sun beamed down on Art, the baseball players, and the fans. He stood in front of his team's dugout, now dressed in his coach's uniform. His attention drifted away from his son in the batter's box, to the parents and spectators who filled the overflowing bleachers.
A large banner hung over the visiting dugout: 'In Honor of Odo Atkins.' Odo's parents sat on the upper deck under another sign commemorating their son, who'd been a member of the opposing team. Unfortunately, Odo was the latest victim of the serial killer.
Art squinted in the sunlight and continued to study the spectators. He sought new faces in the crowd — ones he'd never noticed before at any of their games. His serial-profiling research suggested that some killers got off on watching the reaction of their handiwork on the love ones of their victims. The killer could be there watching Odo's parents but try as he might, he didn't spot anyone who seemed out of place. He returned his attention to the game.
Ben took his most menacing stance at home plate and glared at the pitcher. He moved his bat in a circular motion above his head.
Ben's best friend, thirteen-year-old Scott Kennedy Jr., with blond hair and blue eyes, yelled out to him from third base. "Come on, Ben."
Art cupped his hands around his mouth and yelled above the crowd of spectators, some of whom now stood, clapping and stomping their feet in the stands. "Remember, son — keep your eye on the ball."
Art heard a familiar laugh behind him and glanced over his shoulder at twenty-nine-year-old Angela Hunter. She looked irresistibly captivating — tanned and brunette, dressed in a white summer blouse and khaki shorts that revealed her slim, well-toned body. She stood close to Art's silver-haired maternal grandmother, Sarah Somers. Eighty-five-year-old Sarah sat slouched on the corner of the lowest row of bleachers.
Angela waved and blew him a kiss.
Art smiled and nodded back, loving the way her full, round, emerald-green eyes lingered on him — eyes that had instantly made him want to get to know her better when they first met. Something about her got to him. They had whatever it was that drew people together and then some. He listened to her lively discussion with his grandmother about their favorite topic those days: him.
"When are you going to make my grandson an honest man?" Sarah asked.
"Grandma Sarah," Angela said.
"You're the right age. You need to have children."
"I have a career," Angela said.
"He should never have married that girl. She broke his heart. You don't want him, now that he's damaged goods?"
"I'm trying," Angela said.
Art smiled at his grandmother. "All right, Grandma. Stop playing matchmaker and watch your great-grandson take his turn at bat."
Ben stepped out of the batter's box and wiped away sweat that dripped into his eyes from his forehead. He raised each foot and used his bat to knock the dirt out of the cleats of his baseball shoes. He stepped back into the batter's box and dug in.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Preordained"
Copyright © 2017 David L. Wallace.
Excerpted by permission of David L. Wallace.
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