Splintered by SJD Peterson
Hunting Evil: Book One
A string of murders targeting effeminate gay men has the GLBTQ community of Chicago on alert, but budget cuts have left many precincts understaffed and overworked, and homophobia is alive and well within the law enforcement community so little has been done to solve the mystery. When the FBI calls in Special Agent Todd Hutchinson and his team, the locals are glad to hand the case off. But Hutch finds a bigger mystery than anyone originally realized—seventeen linked murders committed in several different jurisdictions. Hutch’s clues lead him to Noah Walker.
Working on his PhD in forensic psychology, Noah has been obsessed with serial murders since he was a child. Noah finds himself hunted, striking him off Hutch’s suspect list, but not off his radar. To catch the killer before anyone else falls victim, they’ll have to work together to bring him to justice.
They pulled off the road near the ravine that Jared Martin—the first known victim—had been discarded in. Like all the other victims, except for the latest one, he’d been thrown to the ground without any kind of care to how he landed. Once dead, he was like yesterday’s garbage, dumped without worth or another thought.
Granite didn’t follow Hutch as he made his way to the exact spot Martin had been found. Instead, Granite leaned against the car with notebook in hand. Granite would take his own notes of the area but knew enough to give Hutch a minute alone at the scene. Hutch considered the area with a critical eye. There was nothing special about it, a wide open field with scattered trees and brush visible beneath the nearly full moon. It was doubtful it had changed much in the past three years. He tilted his head back and closed his eyes as he tried to think beyond his own definitions of right and wrong.
It’s isolated. I live close by. I’ve been here before. Don’t want to take a chance on getting lost with my prize. It’s deserted. The grass has grown up in the ruts of the makeshift road. No one comes here often. It’s a perfect place to leave my toy.
Hutch let the thoughts flow through him as he tried to get a mental picture of the man speaking to him in his head, but he always stood in shadow, never revealed too much about himself or showed his face. Hutch recalled from the notes that there had been no tire marks left, no other types of indentations suggesting he’d used a cart or any means to bring the body here except brute strength. The shadowy figure morphed into a larger man.
A glint of light off the smooth steel blade sliced through delicate skin. Metal shackles that immobilized straining limbs clanked. Anguished screams as fire met flesh echoed off the walls, took it in, relished in the sweet symphony.
As the images and sounds of torture and mutilation played out in Hutch’s mind, the edge of his lip curled into a sneer as exhilaration raced along his nerve endings. Blood. Pain. Screams. Power. Lust. His body heated, pulse racing as arousal surged through him, hardening his cock. Hutch stumbled back with a loud gasp as the intensity caused his body to spasm violently.
Strong arms snaked out and caught him around the waist before he could land on his ass, steadying him. “I got ya,” Granite murmured against Hutch’s ear as he was pulled tightly against Granite’s chest.
Hutch gasped harshly, trying to get air into his constricted lungs. His mouth watered and he swallowed several times as he fought to keep down the rising bile from spewing out. Hutch let Granite support his trembling weight as he worked to slow down his breathing and calm his rapidly beating heart. He hated this part of the job. But his uncanny ability to get into the mind of a killer was a necessary evil and part of what made his arrest record so stellar. Still, it scared the living shit out of him. The way his body reacted to the images of carnage and death disgusted him.
What the fuck is wrong with me? He was no longer sure if he was experiencing what the killer was feeling or his own reactions to the images, the lines having become blurred. Was it possible that on some level, he had the same penchant for suffering and murder? Was he just as sick as the bastard he was hunting?
Hutch pushed the disturbing thoughts down and locked them up tight. He didn’t dare look at them too deeply, question them, afraid of what the answer would be. He straightened and pulled away from Granite.
“I’m… I’m good,” he assured Granite as he threaded his fingers through his sweat-dampened hair.
Granite watched him carefully, worry and confusion evident in his tight features. He knew Hutch well enough, had witnessed his strangeness enough times not to push him at the moment. But Hutch knew they’d be talking about it later. At least by then, hopefully he’d have his shit under control and could tell Granite the same thing he always did. “Imagining how they die always gets to me.” Granite was smart enough to hear the lie for what it was, but he never demanded more. Hiding this dark, ugly part of himself was the only way Hutch could look anyone in the eye every day. Eventually, though, he knew the truth would come out. What then? Would he find himself with a one-way ticket to the asylum for the criminally insane before he could become what he sought?
Agent Hutchinson, you are one fucked-up man. “Yeah, tell me something I don’t know,” he muttered under his breath as he stomped back to the car.