It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon. It was exceptionally warm as it was mid-November, but I didn’t mind. It had been raining for the past week, so a dry day was welcome in my book. I sat on a bench in the park, my dog Bowser sitting next to me, panting like he’d just run a marathon. I gave him a waterfall of my Crystal Geyser bottle and watched him drink. He looked at me and barked, wagging his tail happily. I wiped the sweat from my forehead, and pulled out a tennis ball I had in my backpack “Ready for some fetch, boy?” He barked loudly, almost jumping into my lap.

I turned around and heaved the ball as hard as I could across the grass. I watched the ball sail over the heads of people lounging around and land near some bushes. Bowser shot past them, yipping excitedly, and dove into the brush. After a few moments of him rustling around, he bounded back towards me, ball in mouth. I took the ball from him, and tossed it again. Bowser ran for it like a wide receiver, dodging a little boy and his mother having a picnic. He searched like a madman for it, and disappeared behind a bush. I waited for a few moments for him to return, but he didn’t. I thought maybe I’d lost the ball and he was looking for nothing, when he suddenly emerged, running at full speed towards me. He didn’t have the ball in his mouth however, but he was carrying something else instead.

As he got closer, I could see it was a book of some kind. Bowser dropped it at my feet and barked. I picked up the book and saw it was an old, leather journal. I examined it and saw that aside from Bowser’s teeth marks and the dirt that covered the journal, it was pretty much in good condition. Now, I wasn’t one to be nosy or a collector of junk, but I had this weird feeling that this journal was something different… something special. I dusted the journal off as best as I could, and stuck it in my backpack. It was kind of odd that he picked it up in the first place, but you know how dogs are. They’ll pretty much dig anything up. I looked at him and scratched his chin. He still wanted to play of course, so I looked around and found a nice, sturdy branch. I showed it to him, and tossed it over his head. I laughed as he dashed for it like his canine life depended on it. I played fetch with Bowser for about an hour before deciding to head home. As I gathered our stuff and picked up my backpack, I couldn’t help but be excited about the odd book Bowser found. I was curious as to what it said inside, and who it belonged to. I had to read it.

When I got home, the mysterious journal unfortunately had to wait as I had to do some chores left for me by my mom, as she had to work a double shift at the hospital. When I saw the list she left on the fridge, I sighed and got straight to doing them. After an hour or so, I finally finished them and sat down on the couch, exhausted and so hungry my stomach growled like a werewolf. I decided that some pizza sounded good for dinner, as I knew my mom wouldn’t be home until about one in the morning. I pulled my cell phone from my pocket and was about to call Round Table when I heard someone ring my doorbell. It was followed by a familiar, playful knock, and a big smile formed on my face. Bowser heard all of this, too, and he sat up and started barking happily. I answered the door knowing exactly who it was.

“Hey baby,” my girlfriend Rayne said, giving me a big kiss. I held her and she laughed.

“Hey babe, knew it was you. I thought you were still at that family get-together you had going on though.” She shook her head.

“No, it ended like an hour and a half ago. I decided to swing by here and hang out with you for a while.” I pulled her inside and closed the door. She rubbed Bowser’s belly as he rolled around at her feet.

“You’re just in time, too. I was going to order a pizza.” She brushed her hair behind her ear and sat down.

“Perfect, I’m starved.” I took a seat next to her, and called the pizza place. I ordered a large pepperoni pizza and some garlic bread. We watched TV until the pizza arrived, and halfway through chowing down on our greasy grub, the journal suddenly popped into my mind.

“Hey Rayne, give me a sec, I’ll be right back.” She nodded, chewing and watching the television screen. I ran up to my bedroom, unzipped my backpack, and pulled out the journal. I ran back downstairs. I handed her the journal.

“What is this babe?” she asked. I sat next to her and smiled.

“Okay, while I was at the park with Bowser today, he dug this old journal up and I wanted to read it, but didn’t get a chance yet. Do you want to read it with me?” She raised her eyebrows.

“Sean, really? Some journal that could belong to some old dude who writes about birds, or a creepy guy who writes about his fetishes?” She gave me a serious look, and then a playful smile.

“I’d knew you’d want to,” I said, kissing her on the cheek. She opened the journal and on the first page it read: “This journal belongs to Davey.” Rayne looked at me.

“Davey? What the hell?” I laughed.

“Keep going; let’s see what deep, dark secrets Davey has.” She looked down and flipped to the next page. A large passage was written in red ink. Rayne read it aloud.

“If you’re reading this right now, congratulations my friend. You have truly found yourself a treat, a delicious, decadent morsel of information that will surely keep you up at night. Yup, you read that right dear reader. This old, torn-up leather journal you found is truly something made of nightmares. It’s my journal, and it has everything I’ve ever done written inside. Every person I’ve maimed, beaten, tortured, and murdered, all wrapped up in one fun little book. Heck, it’s not everyday someone such as yourself reads the words of a serial killer. An honest, raw journey into my twisted, diabolical mind, a pathway that traverses the darkness of the human psyche. And you shall regret reading this dear friend. Yes you will. Whether you read only a few pages, or the entire damn thing, you will be horrified. So dear reader, enjoy this journal. I suggest reading it at night…it’s much more fun that way.”

Rayne looked at me, her eyes wide with surprise and her smile totally evaporated.

“Sean, what the hell is this?” I shook my head in disbelief and looked at the journal.

“I don’t know babe, maybe it’s some kind of dark humor the writer put in. If you don’t want to keep reading, it’s ok.” Her smile slowly came back and shook her head.

“No, no, no. Let’s keep going.” I nodded and flipped to the next page. Stapled at the top of the page was a disturbing photograph of an elderly woman lying in the middle of the floor, both of her legs terribly mangled and her throat slit from ear to ear. Her face was covered in blood and her eyes open in shock. Rayne screamed and dropped the journal. I looked at her and tried to calm her down, my eyes still glued to that horrible photo.

“I’m sorry babe, I…I didn’t expect…” She picked up the journal, her hands shaking, and read what was written below the photograph.

“October 5, 2008: Today I stalked Mrs. Henderson on her way back home. Stupid old woman. So unaware of her surroundings. She didn’t see me crouching behind the garbage can as she pulled into the driveway. She didn’t even make a sound when I struck her behind the head with the bat. It was relatively easy carrying her inside, too. When she awoke, I had already tied her to a chair. She tried to plead with me, tell me that I could leave and she won’t say a word. Again, stupid old woman. She wasn’t going to talk because I don’t leave witnesses. I explained to her I was a sick, sick man and all I wanted was a cure to heal my suffering. Her pain was my cure. As I broke her legs, she passed out. I was slightly disappointed because when I cut her throat, she didn’t make a sound. No cure today I guess.”

I grabbed the book from Rayne and closed it. “That’s it! Enough! We have to call the police!” I stood up and went to grab my phone on the couch.

“And tell them what Sean? That we found a fucked up journal that might belong to a murderer? We don’t even know who this really is? Davey isn’t really something they can work with!” I looked at her, phone in hand, and realized she was right. How in the world could they identify this guy? And if this was some really, really sick joke crafted by some disturbed psycho, we could waste a lot of time convincing the police we weren’t involved in its creation. Either way, I didn’t know what the heck to do.

“What do you suggest then babe?” I said, my hands shaking as I held the journal. She looked at it and held out her hand.

“We see what else is written and hopefully find enough info to see if this guy is someone we’ve heard of in the news or something, or if there are enough clues for police to work with. We have to try anyway.” I handed her the book, and slowly sat down. She let out a deep breath and flipped to the next page. I almost vomited when I saw the photograph that was stapled to the top of this page. It was of a man tied to a tree with barbed wire, his eyes cut out and his face painted like a clown. I looked at Rayne and I could see the complete terror in her eyes. I followed her eyes to see the entry that was written below the picture.

“January 17, 2009: “This John Schroeder IV had it coming. All his talk of serious business and financial responsibility was garbage. After attending many of his boring events showcasing his success as some kind of entrepreneurial Superman, I found out that he was taking a group out with him for a camping trip near Yosemite. It was the perfect opportunity to get him. I found out where he was camped out, and I played the part of a fellow entrepreneur. I lured him away from the group with the ruse that I needed his expertise concerning how to market a popular bit coin startup that investors had faith in. He couldn’t pass up the opportunity to school me, but that’s okay. He didn’t notice me leading him further and further away from the campground. Before he realized how far away he was, I pulled a hatchet from my pack as he turned around and struck him in the head. He went down like a bag of bricks. Probably already dead, but that didn’t matter. I needed to send a message with him. A message of how powerful laughter is in this world, how important it is to laugh at how serious we take ourselves. So, I tied him up with barbed wire against a willow, cut out his eyes, and painted him up like a regular Bozo, with a nice, big red grin. Ha ha ha ha. He couldn’t see how important it is to laugh, so I helped him out. You’re welcome, John."

Rayne shook her head, trembling and holding her knees. I stared at this book, this evil journal that we had in our possession. I wanted to grab it and throw it in the fireplace, but I know we couldn’t. I knew that we had something so dark, a personal, terrible confession of crimes; it would be irresponsible to destroy it. Not for our sake, but for the poor people who lost their lives in this murderer’s book. It would be unfair to their memory to waste an opportunity to bring their killer to justice.

We had to try anyway.

I took the journal from Rayne and went to the next page. Again, another horrible photograph accompanied an entry. This photograph I almost cried looking at. It was a photo of a man wearing this creepy Fox mask, holding the decapitated head of a young woman, her eyes and nose removed. Her body was also in the photograph, sitting upright in a chair. Her dress covered in blood, and her hands folded in her lap. My hands trembled as I read the entry below the sickening photo.

“June 20, 2011: Ah, Joy Prescott. She was one of my favorites. I pretended to be a kind, caring web designer named Trevor as I dated her for a few months before I ended her suffering in this world. Poor thing, but I helped her. One day as we sat in her home having dinner, I went behind her, feigning a playful hug, only to stab her in the neck about ten times. I made it quick, I did like her anyway. She slumped over in her chair, blood all over that beautiful violet dress. I will always remember that dress. So beautiful. Anyway, she was always worried about her problems; it all went to her head. So I removed it. Always smelling trouble among friends and family, so that had to go too. A perfect end to her suffering. It was only fitting that I take a picture on the day I helped her, wearing a mask of her favorite animal. You will be missed Joy… you will be missed…”

I angrily slammed the journal shut and looked at Rayne. My poor girlfriend looked like a ghost. I shook my head and picked up my phone again.

“Enough, we’re calling the police. Right now.” I dialed 9-11 and spoke to the operator. Once I told her about the journal and the gruesome, terrible things that it contained, she sounded extremely worried and said she’d send officers right away. I hung up and looked at Rayne.

“Do. Do you think… it’s someone they know? Or that they can actually find this guy?” she asked me. I sighed and I stared at the journal.

“I don’t know babe… I guess we have to wait and see.”

The police arrived in about three minutes, and once the officers looked through the journal, they were horrified. We only read three entries… there were more, accompanied by gory photos that made one cop squeamish. I’m thankful we didn’t get to see the rest, as I heard words like “family” and “child” uttered by one officer as they looked through it. One cop questioned Rayne and I and told us they would contact my mother right away to let her know they were at the house.

They completely believed we just stumbled upon the journal. They recognized some of the people immediately, their faces in crime scene photos that left law enforcement shaken: they were victims of an unidentified serial killer called “the New Ripper” that terrorized many cities across the U.S. In 2013, the killer just seemed to have vanished, and the trail went cold. He said the New Ripper killed all of the ten people in the journal, and these were photos that he probably took himself. They were extremely shocked, however, to find in the journal that he had apparently murdered eight more people. He assumed that “Davey” was just an alias he was using or maybe a hint to his real name, but they couldn’t be sure. We were shocked as the gray-haired sergeant told us this. It was all just too much for us to grasp.

While we spoke to him, we heard the cops who were sitting down looking through the journal gasp and say something inaudible. The three of us turned our heads and looked at the one cop holding the journal. He motioned to his sergeant to come over and see something written in the journal. The sergeant went over and looked at something the young officer was pointing at. The sergeant gasped as well, and an extreme look of concern crossed his face. He quickly came over to me, journal in hand, and sighed deeply.

“Son, I know I shouldn’t be showing this to you. But… you have a right to know. I just want you to know that we’re here now, and everything will be okay. We are going to find whoever is doing this. I promise you that.” I was about to ask what he meant by this, but when the sergeant showed me the last page of the journal, I couldn’t utter a word. Rayne, terror in her eyes, read the next entry.

“September 1, 2014: It’s been a little while since I’ve taken a life, and rightfully so. I’m ending my reign of terror on a good note. I won’t be like those fools Bundy or Gacy or Ramirez, I’m going out with dignity. I’ve been stalking this teenager, some kid named Sean Calloway. I know where he goes to school, who he hangs out with, everything. It’s quite funny, actually, how easy it is to know where these stupid young people are at with the whole ridiculous Facebook craze and social media crap. Man, it’s never been easier to stalk someone. Anyway, I’m going try something different with this one. If my little theatrical experiment works, he’ll be my only victim to know I’m coming for him. I’m going to try and leave this journal for him to find somehow. Don’t know how I’ll do it yet, but if you’re reading this Sean…the next act is about to begin.”

I didn’t know what to say after she got done reading the entry. I felt her hug me and cry and the cops talking furiously and calling things in on the radio. My mind numb with fear and my eyes welling up with tears, I looked at the photograph that accompanied the dark, foreboding message… a photograph of me playing with Bowser in front of my house.

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