Serial Killers: The Boarder (Part 3) by Stephen Bustanoby

  1. Serial Killers: The Boarder (Part 1) by Stephen Bustanoby
  2. Serial Killers: The Boarder (Part 2) by Stephen Bustanoby
  3. Serial Killers: The Boarder (Part 3) by Stephen Bustanoby
  4. Serial Killers: The Boarder (Part 4) by Stephen Bustanoby
  5. Serial Killers: The Boarder (Part 5) by Stephen Bustanoby

Serial Killers are part of our Trembling With Fear line and are serialized stories which we’ll be publishing on an ongoing basis.

Part 3

Mrs. Milkie sat at the head of the table. After saying grace, she dished out the food. 

Robert found the meal to be bland. Very little, if any, salt, pepper, or other spices. He imagined this was what the food was like in the nursing homes, keeping aging digestive tracts in order.

Robert found Oscar and Floyd to be as bland as the food. They actually could have been brothers. Same stick arms covered in liver spots like tattoos, waddle hanging over the neck of their wrinkled t-shirts and complexions you’d find on a mortuary, ‘dearly departed.’ Their dispositions bordered on sulky and depressed.

A conversation was initiated by Floyd, who asked how Mrs. Milkies ‘hobby’ was going. Around bites of chicken, he asked, “So, have you caught any bad guys lately?”  

Mrs. Milkie daintily dabbed her lips with a linen napkin, then said, “I think we are getting close on the Sandra Wilkes case. We do not believe she just ran away from her home, leaving her two small children alone. Her relatives say that it is completely out of character for Sandra.”

Robert stopped eating. What’s this? 

“The police are checking phone records, and, of course, their primary suspect is the ex-husband. All by the book as they say,” Mrs. Milkie finished.

Robert wondered, what the hell? Finally, he spoke, “It sounds like you have an interest in law enforcement.” He wondered if she would like to go with him on his next kill. Oh, that’s right—she is the next kill. His giggle nearly escaped through the potatoes in his mouth.

Mrs. Milkie dabbed her lips, “Well, yes, I’m what you would call an amateur sleuth. A junior detective. You see, I belong to an internet club called ‘Shadow Chasers.’ We take real, unsolved cases and chat online about our theories on who did it, why, and how.” 

Robert smiled as he watched and listened as Mrs. Milkie talked. Isn’t that cute? A bunch of geriatric G-Men solving crimes. He would like to give them a good, juicy case with plenty of gore.  

“So, we believe the ex had the motive and opportunity to rid himself of a woman who would not let him see the kids and was taking him to the cleaners for alimony and child support.” 

Robert asked, “So this hobby must take a lot of your time, and as busy as you are, how do you find the time to solve cases?”  She ain’t gonna have any time once I’m through with her.

Mrs. Milkie stood and started collecting dishes, saying, “Oh, I just dabble with it. I really don’t have the time I would like to pursue cases.”

The dishes cleared, Mrs. Milkie brought in the butterscotch pudding on a serving tray. She dispensed the pudding and sat. “My real interest in crime is with the serial killers,” she said with a gleam in her eye. “The psychology behind a mind that can kill and torture human beings fascinates me.”

Robert blurted out, “Don’t you mean torture and kill?”  

Mrs. Milkie tittered behind her, napkin, “Of course, torture then kill.”

Robert watched Mrs. Milkie eating her pudding. The itch at the back of his brain had become a smoldering ember. The memories of his last two victims spiked across his mind.

Floyd Evans asked, “Serial killers?  They’re the scariest bunch. Don’t they make you afraid?” Mrs. Milkie placed her spoon in her empty bowl and folded her hands on the table.

“Yes, they are the scariest bunch, because they walk among us, looking and acting as normal as anybody. Yet there is a monster that lurks underneath their ordinary-looking lives.” 

Do you mean like the guy sitting to your left?  Robert had to clench his teeth to coral a laugh.

Oscar Fanning was dozing over his unfinished pudding.

Robert wanted in on this, so he asked, “Mrs. Milkie, what do you believe makes a person into a serial killer?” 

She straightened up and lifted her chin, saying, “I believe, and many experts concur, that genetics and early childhood trauma creates a mind that has to kill, to satisfy something they are lacking. It’s an uncontrollable urge that the killer cannot deny.”

To Robert, she looked and sounded like a teacher. Like a ‘know it all.’ He hated ‘know it all’s.’ His mother was a ‘know it all.’ Though she didn’t know shit. The ember in his brain grew warmer and brighter.  

There would be a point of no return. Then its time for the kill.

She continued, “I bet you didn’t know that we all are just one genetic marker away from being a serial killer. Especially if you have suffered a major childhood trauma plus that genetic component.” 

Floyd shook his head, “Not me.” I was raised right by God-fearing parents who did not ‘spare the rod and spoil the child.’ If I sassed or lied, something like that, I got me a whopping with the strap. That’s what kept me on the straight and narrow.” 

Oscar was now snoring into his pudding.

“Well, I think we’ve had enough stimulating table talk for one evening,” said Mrs. Milkie, as if she were addressing children. Robert stood, offering to help with the dishes. “Oh, no, no, you gentlemen, relax. It won’t take but a tic to have them done. In fact, the seven o’clock news comes on in a few minutes. I like to listen to it when I’m in the kitchen. Help yourself to the TV.” 

Floyd tottered up to his room. 

It took more than a totter for the one-legged Oscar to negotiate the stairs. But he made it

Stephen Bustanoby

Stephen is a new writer with several recent short story publications. He grew up with Twilight Zone, Outer Limits, and

NIghtmare Theater. We can find horror in the most benign, mundane situations, and that’s what I look for.

Stephanie Ellis

Stephanie Ellis is a member of the HWA and writes dark speculative prose and poetry which has been published in a variety of magazines and anthologies. Her work includes the novel, The Five Turns of the Wheel and the gothic novella, Bottled, both via Silver Shamrock Publishing.She can be found at https://stephanieellis.org/ and on twitter @el_Stevie.

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