The Cactus Killer – Chapter 7 (plus weekend musings!)

We’ve made it to Friday!  With the weekend and Super Bowl right around the corner, it’s shaping up to be a good two days.  Quick Super thought – Patriots 24 to Seattle 19.  I don’t like either team, but Tom Brady has been playing like Montana as of late.

So, for all of you who’ve been following along with The Cactus Killer story, this past week I created the story outline for the second book.  I obviously can’t say much now, especially since we are only getting to Chapter 7, but stay tuned for more information.

Finally, I’ve been writing a non-science fiction/fantasy novel.  Next week (probably on Monday), I’ll have a dedicated post to that story and all the particulars but today I’ll drop a little bit of information.  Gone are Norse gods and creatures of the night and in are boxers, lawyers, and crooked promoters.  It’s a story I am really enjoying writing and excited to get some feedback on.  Well that is for next week and you’re all here for one thing and that’s…


Chapter 7

 I made a call into town and told Chaz the situation. He said he would get Dr. Higgins and the two of them would go collect the bodies from the mine. The regular medical examiner, Dr. Donna Tello was already at the Alvarez murder scene. That is where Elizabeth and I were also heading.

“It was a distraction, the two humans! Whoever this guy is knows what he is doing. He sent amateurs up here to stir up the hornet’s nest while he was still out there!” I was hot; someone played me good.

“This certainly is not good. We have a confirmed dead werewolf on our hands. Whoever this is, they are expanding their modus operandi.”

Even though she was slinging out big words, she was right. Knowledge of Full Moon wasn’t so much a give-away but now the dead werewolf? Yeah, this guy knows what he is targeting.

As we were pulling up to the crime scene, I saw Detective Jacobs and Dr. Tello already doing a preliminary report on the body. I got out of the car and walked over to have a look. Hector Alvarez, at first glance was shot four times in and around the heart and twice more in the head. You could also see the impression that the cactus had left on his face.

“Anything that we can use right away, doctor?”

Dr. Tello was the best in her field in my opinion. She was middle-aged or so but she still looked good for her age. I knew Chaz held a candle for her and whenever given the chance, I would give him grief about it.

“Sheriff, maybe; look here at his face. If the cactus was placed post mortem, there would not be this level of trauma. I think the killer placed it here first and then shot him.”

I doubted a wolf the size of Alvarez would let someone do this without a struggle unless, “Do you think he was drugged?”

“Yes, yes I do. Once I get the body back to the hospital and can run the tests, I will know for sure. In this instance though, that would make the most sense.”

“Thank you, Dr. Tello. I will be most interested in reading the report.” I then turned over to Talia. “Jacobs, notice anything off when you got here?”

“Yes sir, the victim was kneeling when I got here. It almost looked like he was praying. I thought he was still alive until I got over here.”

“How did you even know where to look? We are in the middle of nowhere out here.”

“A call came in on the tip line, not even five minutes after you called Deputy Westchester about the shooting at your house. A male on the other end said he saw a Silver wolf out in the desert acting weird. Based on the physical description, I figured it might be Alvarez.”

Anonymous call my left leg. I would wager my salary it was the killer messing with us. “Is the tip line call on record?”

“Yes it is. I will email you the audio right away.”

“Good work Jacobs; can you and Billy escort Dr. Tello back to the hospital? I want to take no chances that we lose Alvarez’s body.”

With Dr. Tello taken care of, Elizabeth and I could look over the scene undisturbed.

“What are we looking for, Vic?”

“Right now, anything that might give us an indication of what we are dealing with.” I closed my eyes and calmed my inner self. I opened my senses to the world and let them take over. Once I got passed the obvious smells like blood and werewolf, that same musky smell that the man in the cave had was here too. Not a close smell, but the exact same. I wonder if it was a type of cologne these guys were using.

“Hey Elizabeth, come here for a second.” She had been looking at the spot where the body was found and gave me a curious look as I hadn’t moved yet.

“Did you find something already?”

“How good is your sense of smell?”

“Nowhere near as good as yours I imagine, but it is quite good for the vampire community.”

“Take a deep breath and go past the blood and werewolf smell. Do you get that musky smell, like the one from the rifle guy in the mine?”

She did as I asked and for a few moments she sniffed the air. “It smells exactly like that guy! Could this be a clue?”

“Do you recognize it? I figured it was some sort of cologne or body spray.”

“It is certainly no cologne I ever smelled on a man before. I am sorry; I do not know what it could be.”

Another mystery, but at least it could be used. I followed the smell for a ways while Elizabeth continued surveying the scene. Eventually, the smell stopped cold. It wasn’t replaced with smells associated with a car or any form of transportation. It just vanished. As I walked back, I just had to shake my head. This was not going to be an open and shut case.

A quick tour around the crime scene brought no new evidence and by this time, it was well after noon. We hopped back in the car and headed back to the station.

“I think tomorrow, as long as we don’t get interrupted again, we will head over to Elephant Butte and finally meet with the reverend. I will make a call over to the EBPD and make sure we have an escort. We don’t know what might be going on there.”

“I feel much better that this case is stumping you as well, Sheriff.” I looked over at her, I was appalled. “No, do not take it that way. Remember, I have been around the block more times than I care to admit. If you figured this out in a few days, well I would have been rather embarrassed.”

I didn’t think about that. “Just how long has it been since the first murder?”

I am pretty sure she was counting in her mind. For a moment she looked like just another lady who may have had a year or two on me the way her brow scrunched up as she was thinking. “The first murder occurred in 1978, thirteen years after I took over the southwest.”

“You’re telling me this guy has been out there doing this for thirty six years? I thought this just started happening?”

“In the beginning, it was sporadic. After the first murder in 1978, nothing happened until 1981. Then over the next decade a few more would pop up here and there. Finally, over the past year, it has gotten out of hand. Most do not know about the early murders and we tried our best to keep it that way.”

I had a lot more to process now. Unfortunately, nothing at the station gave me any clues either. The audio recording of the tip line call was a bust. The timbre of the voice kept changing, leading me to suspect two people were alternating taking turns while talking to Jacobs. The voices were close enough that I doubt anyone else would’ve picked it up.

I called the mayor and briefed him on the day. He was happy that two of the suspects were no longer in a position to cause harm, but the Alvarez murder really made him nervous.

“Vic, I think you need to take over that case too. Maybe if we can learn what Hector was doing, we can figure out this serial killer case.”

“You’re right, mayor. If it is okay with you, I’d still like to go meet with that Pastor up in Elephant Butte. Those two guys in the mine were zealots and it might have started with that guy.”

“That sounds like a plan. Get up there tomorrow and see what you can dig up and keep on the Alvarez murder.”

My next call was up to the EBPD and making sure it was okay that I came and talked to a potential suspect in an ongoing murder and assault investigation. The sergeant I talked to had no issues and would provide a deputy to escort us over. I thanked him and told him I would be up at his office in the morning.

“Rough day, sir?”

I looked up and saw Jacobs standing in the door. “You wouldn’t know the half of it. I take it Billy is keeping our VIP occupied right now?”

She came in and sat down. “Yes sir, they seem to get along quite well actually. He certainly does have a way with people.”

I chuckled, he certainly did. “We learned a lot today. The mayor wants us to keep on Alvarez which means you will keep on Alvarez. Something stinks there and we need to get an answer.”

“Of course, I will get to the bottom of it. Is there anything else to be done today?”

“Yeah, go save Billy and have him do the evening patrol. I’ll take our guest back to the ‘safe house’ and tomorrow; we will get a fresh start on all of this.”

Fifteen minutes, later me and Elizabeth were headed back to my house. It had been a tough day and I was ready to forget most of it. Just when I was daydreaming about my dinner…

“I think we should go out to eat this evening. I am tired of being stuck in a house that smells of cooked meat.”



You can find all my work, including The Cactus Killer, @

About Jeremy Croston

I'm a comic loving, soccer playing, devoted husband who has a writing addiction. I can be found at Orlando Solar Bear hockey games, at the local sports bar cheering on my teams from Philly (go Flyers!), and being led astray by my schnauzer, JJ. Check out my Amazon page at to see my collections. Feel free to friend me on Facebook too at (there is another one of me out there apparently). Outside of writing, I work in business development and am considered an expert in all things Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Thanks for stopping by and looking forward to talking to you soon!
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