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News & Features » March 2020 » “Ghillie Suit Man” by Esmeralda Gomez Fisher

“Ghillie Suit Man” by Esmeralda Gomez Fisher

Mondays Are Murder features brand-new noir fiction modeled after our award-winning Noir Series. Each story is an original one, and each takes place in a distinct location. Our web model for the series has one more restraint: a 750-word limit. Sound like murder? It is. But so are Mondays.

This week, vengeance is camouflaged in a public park . . . 

Ghillie Suit Man
by Esmeralda Gomez Fisher
Buffalo Bayou, Houston, Texas  

The willowy figure is first spotted alongside the trail, a few feet ahead of her in the scraggy woodland. She counts the number of steps she will take to position herself behind him for optimal throat-cutting proximity.

He will not attack anyone else after this night.

A twilight gust frisks her under her balaclava and hoodie, but the same wind only rustles the artificial leaves attached to the rapist’s ghillie suit, a careless but effective attempt to camouflage himself in the density of the undergrowth. The material with which he has chosen to adorn his suit does not quite match the native foliage. His advantage lies more in others’ oblivion than in concealment. Only the most observant eye could find him in the lush of the park.

And she has. His visible breath in the chill air gives him away.

One of the survivors told her that his suit had been open on the front, exposing his neck, belly, and thighs. He does not carry a weapon.

She leaves the gravel path as if to stretch her hamstrings. Steadies her ragged respiration as adrenaline seizes her focus. Bent over, she palms the knife she keeps in the zippered pocket of her leggings. Unfolds it. The blade is stubby. A quick swipe across his jugular will be enough.

One step. She wades into the brambles, feels the pull of thorns on her all-black base layers as she advances toward the man who is responsible for four attacks within the past six months. The tugs seem to suggest she re-think her goal.

Joggers, solitary but more or less together, pass her by with nary a notice, their reflective gear pointless on the dimly lit path. They ignore a sign that warns DO NOT USE THIS TRAIL AFTER DARK. The park in the heart of the city is popular for after-work runs, and that is why the ghillie suit man has chosen this as his hunting ground. He has been able to snatch victims with ease.

Two steps. Her eyes widen as she stares at the outline of the man she will kill. Any sound she makes is masked by the crunch of the joggers’ shoes on the gravel and the muttering bayou adjacent to the park.

Full dark will descend soon. Only the most rigorous runners yet remain, loping along after their ephemeral puffs of breath. Why can’t they see that a threat looms?

She is alone in seeing. No one can perceive the ache of danger in quotidian life like she can.

She observes him watching in the whispering gloom, waiting to make his selection. She wants to shout, alert the prey. But her urge to neutralize the threat is even stronger.

Three steps, and she stops. Her palm touches the bark of a kudzu-choked sycamore. Is she mistaken?

She wills her foot to move forward. Four steps.

She could turn and go the long way. Her car is parked at the trailhead. Forget this madness. Pretend that she never considered vigilante justice. She could mount the trail again, sprint past him, keeping her eyes forward. Maybe signal his presence to a fellow jogger, an ally, who would call the authorities while he gets away.

But she must do something. There is more danger in not-doing.

Ghillie suit man hasn’t shifted. What is he waiting for? For the trail to thin a bit more, no doubt.

Five steps. The head of the ghillie suit slowly rises. At full height, he is not much taller than she.

The knife handle slips slightly in her perspiring grip.

The ghillie suit lunges, deliberate. Latches onto the back of his unsuspecting victim. She watches as the ghillie suit straddles the writhing person on the ground, who is all in black, too. Facedown on a bed of dry leaves. Ghillie suit man plunges something long and skinny into the base of the victim’s neck.

So he has graduated to murder.

The killer rises and turns to face her. The knife slips from her hand.

“Beat you to it,” the other woman says, as she removes the head and shoulders of the ghillie suit she was wearing. She eyes the knife on the ground. “Wouldn’t recommend that. You could slice your own hand.”

Gently, she removes the icepick from his neck and rolls him over.

In the moonlight, the two women appraise the dead guy lying motionless, his blanched face forever frozen in disbelief.

***

ESMERALDA GOMEZ FISHER writes murderous fiction with topics like cults, hurricanes, disembodied voices, and abductions. She has written a novel of speculative noir featuring a twist on the private eye archetype. As a communications director at a university library, Esmeralda writes and edits sparkling and strategic copy, campaigns, visual story scripts, and AP-style news while surrounded by books. Not a bad gig. She has a Master of Arts in Speech Communication, and is a member of Sisters in Crime (SinC).

***

Would you like to submit a story to the Mondays Are Murder series? Here are the guidelines:

—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your story should be set in a distinct location of any neighborhood in any city, anywhere in the world, but it should be a story that could only be set in the neighborhood you chose.
—Include the neighborhood, city, state, and country next to your byline.
—Your story should be Noir. What is Noir? We’ll know it when we see it.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—Accepted submissions are typically published 6–8 months after their notification date and will be edited for cohesion and to conform to our house style.
—E-mail your submission to info@akashicbooks.com. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.

Posted: Mar 30, 2020

Category: Original Fiction, Mondays Are Murder, Original Fiction | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,



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