Fisher of Time Book One
(Scroll Down for Book 2)
I moved behind him and snapped his neck with a satisfying crunch. His body crumpled in front of me, and I didn’t bother to break his fall. Not that he would feel it.
I looked down at the body and thought about options. What were my risks in leaving evidence and getting caught? I had my balaclava down over my face, so that should negate any camera evidence. I glanced around but did not see any obvious camera domes or bubbles. It made sense since this piece of garbage I had just offed had chosen this location to dump a body.
That left DNA evidence. No one had my DNA on file anywhere in the world, but that was no reason to get sloppy. Either the body had to completely and irrevocably disappear, or it needed to be placed where innumerable other strands of DNA would cover the corpse. Amsterdam had a population of a million people and seventeen million visitors. A lot of DNA found its way into the canals and rivers. The canal it was. A brisk swim down an Amsterdam canal after midnight, with a dead body, was not how I had envisioned my evening unfolding. Certainly not how most international business investors got their exercise. But sometimes you had to improvise.
I pulled his body over to the canal and dropped it, then myself, into the water. There was a place I could stash him while decomposition should erase most evidence of my presence. I also thought about some of the drug crimes conducted in other places. They dismembered the competition. It made sense to copy some of their work. Good insurance just in case someone discovered the body. It had paid off for me over the centuries to be careful with this type of task.
I swam us to a concrete ledge under some thick bushes where the canal opened up to larger water and into the Ijssel River. I stood on the water's edge while I pulled the body up on the ledge. Out came my favorite razor-edged knife, and I severed his hands and head. My knife stayed sharp because I knew how to use it. You had to slice through the soft tissue and work the blade carefully through the joints. Hitting cartilage was OK, but one false slice to the bone dulled the blade. I was from a time when a dull blade could get you killed. I had the skill and experience to prevent that mistake.
The severed parts I put into his jacket and then zipped it shut and tied the arms together to keep the package all tidy. That would enable me to swim easier. The rest of the body I tucked under the ledge and wedged it in among the loose large rocks and rusty rebar. He wasn’t going anywhere soon, at least not this part of him. I worked a chunk of concrete free from the rubble that had a piece of rebar embedded. I bent the rebar over to make a loop. I tied the jacket arms to the loop.
I then swam further down the canal into the river with my grisly and heavy bag of goodies, slowing my progress. When I felt like I was in deep water, I dropped the package. Sleeping with the fishes, like Luca Brasi. The good part of the plan was that the parts would not bloat and float up in the near-freezing water. The bad part was that decomposition was very slow in cold water. But I calculated the chances of a dredge pulling it up were beyond slim. I was too far out of the canal and into the riverbed. The typical dredges used to clear the canals of drowned bicycles and trash would not operate this far out.
With my unplanned chores finished, I turned around and swam up the canal several hundred meters and climbed out. I chose a dark area so even if there were cameras, they would not get a good view of me. I was a few blocks from where I had killed him and did not want to get any closer. I started the long, cold, damp walk home. It was not my first time for that. I wondered how many times I had been in freezing cold canals or rivers. I stopped thinking when I realized it was a lot, and most of those times also involved a body.
The night was one of those March monstrosities, with wind blowing in from the North Sea, whipping the intermittently falling mist into my face. It felt like snow was coming. As I walked across the ancient cobblestones and pavers, I looked around at the house facades along the streets. Amsterdam was always beautiful, even on an ugly night. The heavy glossed paints, dark but colorful, decorated each door and window trim. Each house was a different color. Huge dark windows, like dead eyes, faced the street. It was a town worth loving, but tonight it seemed less inviting than usual. Ice formed on my clothes, and I wiped it off as I walked and fumed about my evening.
I did not do this kind of thing much anymore, but tonight I had acted in a rage. Should have stayed in control, I told myself. But this guy had pushed my last button. His ticket was due to be punched. I was still mad about the entire incident.
Once home, I changed clothes and sat on the comfortable leather sofa. Out came my favorite cashmere wool throw. I wasn’t cold, but the idea of being cold bothered me. I had good reasons for that. I watched the snowfall through the window. The canals didn’t ice over most winters anymore, so the night portrayed them as black, endless roads. The snowflakes were disappearing into infinity. Altogether a typical late winter evening in the Netherlands. The name seemed odd; for most of my existence, I had referred to this part of the country as Holland.
Amsterdam had a lot of positives, but much of winter was soul-crushingly bleak after the holidays, especially as March crept along without a break for nicer weather. And, I had just spent the evening backstroking down a freezing canal; the winter seemed more immediate. The swim tonight would have killed most humans from hypothermia, but it was just annoying to me.
I thought back over the evening and tried to think if I had made any mistakes. I had already thought over it a dozen times. I felt I was in the clear, unless something had slipped by my attention prior to my attack. That thought took me to the events that preceded this evening.
The small-scale but murderous little drug lord had come to my attention a few weeks ago. Police reports had linked him to the body of a kid, barely a teenager, a junkie, who was found dead in a local canal. I decided he was worthy of more scrutiny, since it was my home turf. I followed and documented his typical day of dealing and distribution. Anonymously, I forwarded two weeks’ worth of observational evidence to the police. That gave them probable cause to make an arrest. It also kept me from having to kill again.
They took no action, which was odd for the Amsterdam police. Although often mistaken for amateurs because of their good nature, they were always quick and thorough when dealing with certain illegal drugs. Especially if the activity involved a murder. Capital crime was rare here. You had a much better chance of dying in a bicycle accident or hot-air balloon crash than being murdered in the Netherlands.
Then a second body was found two nights ago. Another kid, aged fifteen, was dumped in an industrial area near Amstelveen. She had been a carrier, or mule, for my surveillance target. I needed to up my game and follow this creep more closely if he was killing teenagers. He must have someone at the police protecting him, or was a confidential informant since he was still free and in business.
Tonight, I had been hunting. I was walking up a dark street beside a canal. It was an area where I knew he conducted business and hung out with customers. I saw him a block away, with my enhanced night sight, and he was putting something in the trunk of his BMW. Damned if it was not another dead kid. Something in my brain snapped. That is when I pulled down the balaclava over my face and dashed up behind him. My speed was inhuman, so he never saw or heard me approach. Just as I grabbed his head I caught of whiff of an odd odor, like a bad cologne. It did not save him, since poaching in my territory carried risks. Despite the objections from most of the world’s religions, I felt society was a better place with certain people removed.
I left his car there with the trunk open during our swim. The police should be able to follow this lead. My way of making a point. It perturbed me they had not acted and arrested him, forcing me into action. They would find the body in the car rather than fishing it out of the canal. But they would not find the perpetrator. If they spent extra time looking for him, then that was on them.
Fisher of Time Book Two
Hanging from a cliff face reminded me how much I hated heights. Really, really hated. My quarry had led me here, showing that it was smarter than I was. I scrambled as best I could up the rock face. Cold rock, in the cracks and shadows, even in the late summer. Two hundred feet down to the ledge I would fall to, if I messed up. Nowhere to go but up.
I finally reached the top, and one last ledge of crumbly rock. Not a good time to screw up so I took my time easing my body against then over the rock. Those yoga classes really helped.
The presence of a lush forest this high was a surprise to me. I sat down and drank some water and rested for five minutes and assessed where I was. The vertical barren landscape I had just climbed was now horizontal and lush. I looked myself over. My hands and lower arms were cut and scraped but nothing major. Pants legs were shredded as well. The thing I was chasing owed me. I thought about how I had gotten here.
I got off the plane in Anchorage four days ago. Alaska was like few other places. You immediately notice how vast the place is, and even then distant mountains hem everything in. Think about that - very distant mountains that are still tall. That is how big things are here. And within that bigness are few people. Population density is just over one person per square mile; density in the Netherlands is over 1300 people per square mile. So people go missing naturally. Because of that and the vastness of the territory, abductions and murders could be hidden for years. But when too many go missing in a specific area it is noticed. The corollary to that was that crimes against nature were rarely noticed, much less prosecuted.
I was here due to a spate of missing humans over half a decade in a smaller town. And lately the sighting of an odd dog-like thing and lots of dead Dall sheep in the surrounding mountains. Another weird appearance of coincidences. The Church had documented the incidents but several factors had prevented them from investigating until now. They did not have anyone local; the European teams had no experience in Alaska; and seven people missing plus dead sheep was not high on the priority list at the moment. But that is why they had me. Experience in Alaska, time to investigate, and I was cheaper than most alternatives. I had volunteered just to revisit Alaska. An easy trip to catch a killer. I had no idea how life altering this trip was to become.
Time to renew the chase. I followed a trail into the woods. These were real woods, a mature arboreal forest. Not redwood-sized, but still plenty big. The greenery underneath was a cool jungle. Fern-like plants, and unfortunately some devil’s club, grew waste high. The moss was so thick it was liking walking on a mattress. A mattress interspersed with deep hidden holes just large enough to swallow a foot and break a leg. The one thought in back of my mind was that these trees were too big to be at this elevation. Trivia dredged up from one of hundreds of college classes. The one I was currently remembering was biogeography. I stopped worrying about that when I sighted my quarry again. Hard to describe, but basically a dog person. Hind legs and bushy tail of a dog below what looked like a human torso wearing a flannel shirt and small human-like arms. The face was hairy, but I never got a close look to see whether it was more dog- or human-shaped. But it was agile and fast, almost scampering up the cliff I had labored to climb. No wonder the Dall sheep were getting massacred. I had been briefed byMichael’s people before coming. There was a packet on supernatural beings reported to have been in Alaska, but most seemed to be myths. This one was likely an Adlet. So this myth was true. I started running again, but carefully. I sensed something and came to a dead stop.
I felt it more than saw it. A very large humanoid shape in the shadows ahead and off to the side. I stared at the place but could not quite see it. As I stood there, the shape became a tree. I took a few steps closer, then sat down, crossed my legs, and kept my hands on my knees, palms up. I closed my eyes and waited. An Adlet, woods where they should not be, and now this. So much for my simple Alaska venture. But sitting and patiently waiting seemed to be the polite thing to do while going down this particular rabbit hole.
“Ah, you are an old one. You sense me even with my cladding. You are not the average hairless one.” I more felt those words than heard them. My skin and bones were slightly vibrating with the words.
“That is most amazing. I was not even aware that it was possible to shift into a tree. I still have much to learn.” I said the words aloud but wasn’t sure it was necessary.
“You are correct on both counts. You have much to learn. And I hear your thoughts, but only when you wish to speak. I would not read your thoughts otherwise. Unless you were a threat. Then I would determine your intent. But otherwise, no, that would just be rude. And my people are not rude.”
“And who are your people?”
“That is a most difficult question to answer. Regardless, I would evade an answer until I know more about you, and who your people are.”
“I am not exactly sure what I am. But not exactly human, which is what I suppose you mean when you say hairless one. I believe I am the only one of my people.”
“Hmm, now that I discern you, you are silvery. Not like the usual hairless ones. And old, as I said a moment ago. Unusual.”
“You can see that? Nobody ever told me that but my wife, or our kids. I don’t know any other silvery people, but I could always see that my wife and children were golden.”
He did not say anything for a moment. “Your wife was a shape shifter that aided the Cherokee tribe? Some time ago back in the Southern mountains?”
“Yes. How could you know that?”
“Then you are the Silver Walker of the Southern Mountains. We thought you had gone. But now nice to meet you, and you are welcome among us.”
Now I was really confused. Hw could an Alaskan Bigfoot, or whatever he was, know who I was, or who Hia was?