Alicia Hawkins sat at the end of the long wooden bar and appeared to be focused on the beer in front of her. What no one in the bar realized was that Alicia Hawkins was hunting, and her eyes were slowly and casually moving from seat to seat and table to table in search of her next victim. She had become a predator of the highest level. The top of the food chain, when it came to humans, and the predator needed to be fed. Alicia Hawkins was a serial killer.
She had walked into the bar a couple of hours before and found a seat where she could observe the entire room. She was a pretty, young woman with purple-streaked blond hair that was tucked up under a straw cowboy hat. She wore tight jeans and a snap-front Western shirt, open just enough to attract the interest of the cowboys and ranch hands who frequented the bar. Being the social person she was, she danced several dances to the local country band and politely thanked the cowboys for their offers to take her home for the night. Tonight, Alicia Hawkins was not interested in casual sex, even though she was attracted to several of the local ranch hands. Tonight, she had a purpose, and had any of the cowboys realized what that purpose was, they would have avoided her like the plague.
Alicia Hawkins had arrived in the middle of nowhere, Oklahoma, a couple of days before and had settled into the isolated cabin she’d found on one of those vacation rentals by owner websites. Since all the arrangements were made online, she never actually met the owner, which was just as well, since the fewer people to see her, the safer she felt. The new driver’s license and credit cards she’d bought off the dark web worked perfectly, and she was glad she’d spent the extra money to buy the best product available.
She’d left Florida a couple of weeks back and was heading, in a roundabout way, towards Colorado to fulfill a promise she’d made to her dying grandfather. In her wake, she’d left several bodies and a task force of federal agents scratching their heads, wondering where her next victim would show up. During the year she had been on the run, she had sliced up seven women in Florida and Colorado, one in Mississippi. Then, to throw off the task force, she’d made a quick trip up to Georgia and left two dead women in that state before heading towards Louisiana and Texas, where two more homeless women died terrible deaths.
She’d lucked out on her second night in Oklahoma when she picked up a young female hitchhiker with no local family. The offer of a place to spend the night and a home-cooked meal was too much to pass up for the young runaway. The sleeping pills Alicia placed in the young woman’s wine incapacitated her enough so Alicia could carry her to the basement, strip off her clothes and tie her hands and feet to the wall. Alicia Hawkins then stripped off her own clothes, opened the roll of assorted knives and scalpels she had carefully laid out on the table and spent the next five hours making various-sized incisions all over the woman’s body.
She took her time and even stopped now and then to admire the woman’s body. She had a thin waist and large, firm breasts, and even though Alicia never reached the kind of sexual pleasure her grandfather had described, she found herself getting aroused as she ran her hands over the woman’s body. The drugs started to wear off after the first hour, and Alicia had to gag the woman to silence her screams. Her pleading, tear-filled eyes begged for the pain to stop, which made Alicia increase the speed and depth of the cuts while using one hand to take care of her own arousal. When the woman’s heart stopped beating, Alicia stepped back, admired her handiwork, lay down on the floor and slept. She was exhausted and sexually satisfied. She was also pleased that she was getting closer to her goal of keeping her victim alive until she reached one thousand cuts.
Alicia Hawkins had chosen this cabin because it sat all by itself at the end of a rural lake. The nearest neighbors were almost a half-mile away, but she was still fearful that the screams of her victims might attract unwanted attention. For peace of mind, once she settled into the cabin, she took the canoe that was stored in the garage, rowed around the entire lake and noticed one other vacation home that appeared to be occupied. It was late in the season, and she was glad that most of the tourists had gone by the time she got there.
The bar was loud and crowded with cowboys and cowgirls from the local cattle and horse ranches that covered the county. It was Friday night, and they all had money to burn and were looking to let off some steam. Alicia Hawkins was sipping her beer and was about to give up when she spotted her next victim—but she wasn’t sure. She’d come into the bar looking for another woman, but across the room, sitting at a table full of well-muscled, tanned cowboys sat a young man who seemed to be the brunt of the jokes that were going around the table. She had already danced with and refused the advances of several of the cowboys at the table, but this young cowboy looked like he might fit the bill. He wasn’t well built but was skinny and seemed shy. He didn’t seem to be enjoying the razzing he was getting from the others and looked like he wanted to escape.
Alicia Hawkins sized him up. She’d started her career as a serial killer by choosing female victims because they were easier to control and more trusting of going off someplace with another woman. It also made her unique in the serial killer world. She felt she was ready to move up to men, but she needed to make sure it was the right man. She knew she had the skills, and she had experimented with several types of fast-acting sedatives, but she was concerned that she could still be overpowered by a man, especially one of these well-built cowboys. She was not a big woman, but her strength had improved with each victim. Looking at this young man, she believed she could do it. She felt herself getting aroused as she sat there, watching him in the mirror behind the bar.
After several minutes of doubt and internal struggle, she decided that tonight was the night. She watched as the young cowboy picked up some money off the table, stood up and walked towards the bar. He was standing there waiting for his drinks when she walked up and sat on the barstool next to him.
“You don’t look like you’re having much fun,” she said. “Maybe I can fix that for you.”
The young man looked around as if he was unsure who she was talking to.
“Are you talking to me, ma’am?” His voice cracked, and he swallowed hard.
“Yes, silly, I’m talking to you. Haven’t you ever talked to a woman before?”
She laughed, and the young man turned a bright shade of red. He was embarrassed, and he glanced over his shoulder to the table where his coworkers had gone quiet and were watching in disbelief since most of them had already struck out with the new girl. The bartender set six beers on the bar, and he looked at her and then his buddies, tipped his hat and walked the drinks back to the table. She could hear loud conversation and a lot of goading, and she sat there and waited. It was his move.
The laughing continued, and the young cowboy stood up, squared his shoulders and walked back towards Alicia. She turned to face him.
“You ready to get out of here?” she said. “I know a quiet place we can go where we won’t be disturbed.”
The young cowboy swallowed hard and nodded his head. Alicia set a twenty on the bar, turned, and tipped her hat to the young man’s friends. They could still hear the laughs and the catcalls as they left the bar.
Alicia Hawkins had an easygoing charm, and she soon had the young man telling her his life story. He’d left home at sixteen after his mother died, and his father fell deeper into the bottle. He’d heard that his dad died a couple of years later, which made him an orphan—a lot better than when he had a family. He was trying to make it on his own and had always dreamed of working on a big ranch. He loved horses. He’d been in Oklahoma a couple of weeks.
She turned the car down a dark lane, almost invisible between the trees, and drove a quarter mile to the house by the lake. She led him inside and lit a fire in the fireplace. The young man stood in the doorway, not sure what to do, so she walked over, took his hand, and led him towards the bedroom. She sat him down and offered him a beer, which he accepted, and she told him to take his clothes off while she headed for the kitchen.
Since this was her first time with a man as a victim, she decided to use the same sleeping pills on him that she’d used on the runaway. Once he was out, she would use the sedative cocktail to incapacitate him. The sleeping pills in the beer would take effect quickly, so she would need to move fast.
She walked into the bedroom and found him standing next to the bed, naked. It was obvious that he was ready for her, so she handed him the beer, and he took a big, long drink while she stripped off her clothes. She lay down on the bed, took him in her hands and gently guided him in. The first minute or so was pure pleasure, and she found she was enjoying him until she sensed the pills kick in. She reached under her pillow, pulled out the syringe, and pushed it into his shoulder. He never felt the needle go in, and within a couple of seconds, he stopped moving.
She pushed him off, slipped out of bed, and put on a fluffy white robe that was hanging behind the door. She tried to lift him and was surprised that he weighed a lot more than she expected. She needed a plan B, so she went downstairs to the basement and brought back two pairs of shackles, a chain and her knife kit.
Alicia Hawkins clamped the shackles on his hands and feet and chained him to the bed. She typically didn’t work on her victims while they were lying down, but this was a new experience and called for a change in her methods. She would need to think about this aspect of her work before she picked up the next guy. Who knows? Maybe if they were lying down, they might stay alive longer. It was something to find out.
She filled a glass with red wine and stood there admiring the young man. For someone so thin, he was certainly virile, and she wished he had been able to stay awake a little longer. She could feel the arousal beginning again, so she stripped off her robe and pulled a beautiful three-inch scalpel from her kit. It was her favorite tool; it made an incision as thin as a human hair. It was a thing of beauty.
Alicia Hawkins hadn’t become a serial killer in the usual manner. She didn’t tear the wings off butterflies when she was a kid, and she never killed a neighbor’s cat. She even used to volunteer at the Pitkin County animal shelter, and she loved the family dog. For the most part, her childhood was perfectly normal, with no signs of anything strange in her makeup. She was a perfectly normal college student until that summer a year ago when she made the discovery that would change her life.
She’d discovered her grandfather’s trophy box a couple of months back and wondered about the significance of the baubles. She knew it was her grandfather’s because no one in the family remembered the old cigar box that was hidden in a hole in the wall behind her grandfather’s big Craftsman toolbox. She had mentioned it one night at dinner, and no one reacted. Well, that’s not exactly true. She thought she saw some kind of recognition in her grandmother’s eyes, but that disappeared as quickly as it had arrived.
She waited until the family was asleep and entered her grandfather’s room. He was sleeping soundly, and she hoped that he might wake up in one of his—getting rarer—lucid moments. She hated to disturb him, so she’d already started to leave his room when a low frail voice stopped her in her tracks.
She approached the bed and stood there with the trophy box held out in front of her. Her grandfather stared at the box in her hands and smiled. She hadn’t seen him smile much since she had gotten home from college, and it surprised her. He asked her to open the box so he could look inside.
She opened the box and held it out to him. His heart monitor reacted almost immediately, and she was afraid the change of tone from the monitor might wake someone else in the small house. She closed the box and pulled it away from him, but his expression indicated that he wasn’t done. She glanced towards his bedroom door to see if anyone might have heard them, and then she reopened the box, and he looked deep inside. She asked him what all these pieces meant. He smiled and asked her to remove the gold-edged cameo necklace. She held it up for him to see, and he told her that this had been the first one.
She was a pretty runaway from somewhere up near Chicago. Her family life had been brutal, so she’d headed west to find her own way in the world. The Korean War was over, and many people were leaving their familiar homes to look for financial opportunities out west. The fledgling ski industry and lax laws were drawing people from far and wide, and Aspen was no exception. The young woman found work in a small diner just off the highway, and she found a room with several other young women. Alicia’s grandfather befriended the young woman, and they started seeing each other at night. Her grandmother never knew.
After a few weeks, she told him that she was tired of the cold and had decided to head to California. Her grandfather sensed an opportunity about to disappear, so he told her he would drive her to the train in Glenwood Springs. He knew she hadn’t told any of her friends about him, so he wasn’t worried about getting caught. That night, as she slipped out of her rooming house, he met her up the highway and loaded her one suitcase into the trunk of his car. She was dressed in a long skirt and a white blouse, and she wore a cameo necklace around her neck. A gift from her mother.
Instead of heading north up Highway 82, he turned south and headed out of town. He turned down Route 15, which at the time was a narrow dirt road, and found the old fire road that led to Conundrum Creek. She asked him where they were heading, and he told her that he wanted to show her a beautiful sight before she left. He reached the end of the road, parked the car and reached his arm around her shoulders. The syringe bit deep into her shoulder, and she started to yell, but he put his hand over her mouth and held it there until the sedative had time to work.
The snow was not that deep on the old trail through the woods as he carried her over his shoulder. The old mining cabin had collapsed years before, but it wasn’t the cabin he was interested in. When he’d first arrived in Aspen, he spent time exploring his new home and discovered the old cabin a mile or so down Conundrum Creek. It sat back about a quarter-mile from the trail along the creek and was completely hidden from view. What interested him most about the cabin was the shaft the old miners had dug under its wooden floor. The shaft went down about thirty feet and then opened into a long tunnel. He found some old, broken-down and decayed wooden shelves and some old mining equipment.
When he’d first found the cabin, he thought it would be perfect for his needs. He spent several weeks tracking down the owner of the property and discovered that the mining claim that the cabin sat on was owned by a man in Pittsburg who had almost forgotten about the old claim. Through a series of letters and telegrams, her grandfather was finally able to get permission to work the claim and use the cabin.
He spent the next couple of months cleaning out the space and installing the things he knew he would need. Along the walls, he bolted in chains and shackles for hands and feet. He purchased several kerosene hurricane lamps and built a bed with a straw mattress. He was able to make the most significant improvement in the machine shop at the ski resort’s maintenance shed.