This is the twenty-seventh part of a fiction serial, in 783 words.
Some opportunist criminals found McCarthy’s body just after dark. They were trying to break into the remote garages, and no doubt were delighted to find the door unlocked. Less delighted by what greeted them inside, they made an anonymous call to the police then ran away.
Just as I had hoped, suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning was immediately believed to be the cause of death. Even with no suicide note, it looked completely non-suspicious, and a quick check on his background soon revealed the allegations in his former job, and his hurried departure to our town. It got a brief mention on the local news that Monday evening, and that was that.
Unusally, there was no special assembly in school, and his unexpected departure was never mentioned.
What followed for me was a period of contentment and reflection. I reflected on the fact that I was connected to every death in some way, however tenuous. If someone ever investigated them as a whole, I would end up being the main suspect. But I wasn’t worried, as I felt secure in the knowledge that there was no evidence whatsoever. They would never get enough to charge me for any of the killings, let alone all of them.
My little sister had suffocated on a toy that was too big for her cot.
Paul Carpenter had drowned on a solo swimming trip in a dangerous place.
Sophie had been depressed after arguments with her parents, and had hung herself.
Maria was a drunken criminal who had blown herself up by lighting a cigarette during a gas leak. Nobody missed her.
Liam and the old woman next door were unintentional. Yeah, sorry about that.
McCarthy deserved what he got. I suspected that other victims of his lust were cheering his death.
Eight deaths. Six deliberate murders, two collateral damage. Not that much, compared to famous killers.
I had no desire to be famous, so it was time to take a break. Leave some space between any deaths that might later be associated with me.
Get on with my studies, and fiocus on my next milestone, becoming seventeen and getting a driving licence. Three months before my birthday, I attended a careers exhibition at the school, and got chatting to representatives of the company I worked for eventually. They liked my grades, and said that if I didn’t go on to university, they would train me up on a management programme in the less than fascinating career of delivery logistics.
That appealed to me for two reasons. It wasn’t that far from where I lived, and the pay was good.
That same day, Uncle Brian decided to buy a new car. Being Brian, it was nothing exciting. A standard Ford Fiesta four-door in factory red, with no extras. He took out a two-year loan, after paying a substantial deposit, and collected the car the following Saturday. I suggested that he could put me on the insurance once I had my provisional licence, and take me out on ‘L’ plates. He grinned.
“Do you have any idea how much that might cost? An inexperienced driver of seventeen? Too much, that’s how much. Best you think about proper driving lessons when you can afford them”. I grinned back. He would learn the hard way.
The exams that summer went well, and I passed everything I hoped for. My plan was to leave school after the Easter break, and start my new job the first week in May. Meanwhile, I received my learner licence, and booked an intensive driving course for the second week of the summer holidays. It was very expensive, especially the one-to-one option that I chose. Picked up in a company car in the morning, and driving for most of the day, with practical classroom work before they dropped me back at home.
It lasted from Monday to Friday, with the official driving test pre-booked for the following Monday. If Brian wondered where I had got all the money from, he never asked me.
Passing first time wasn’t a done deal, but I was very pleased to receive the slip that meant I was a qualified driver. The next day before Brian went to work, I told him that not only did he have to put me on the insurance for the Fiesta, he had to sign the car over to me, as the new owner. Once he had paid it off, it would be mine.
As soon as he started to ridicule my idea, I only had to mention informing the police of what he had been doing to me, and he nodded.
Then he shut himself in his room until he had to leave for work.