The Chill in 90 Degree Heat


Detective Laura Kimber turned the corner in her unmarked cruiser, she reduced her speed, her hands slippery with sweat as they gripped the wheel. She looked toward an alley near Boston Avenue and she saw a homeless black guy looking through a woman's hand bag. He saw Kimber's cruiser so he stood upright and steadied himself with his feet apart. His hands fumbled as he tried to hide the handbag behind his back. He then stood frozen, not in fear, but in disbelief as he watched the cruiser speed away.

“I must be getting soft,” she whispered. “Crazy, but it'll be the last time I turn a blind eye. Besides, nobody reported a stolen hand bag yet.”

It was a quiet August night and Kimber hoped it'll stay that way. Bridgeport, the largest city in the state always had surprises, and Kimber half expected one to rear its ugly head.


Even before she opened her eyes, Miriam Ortiz was aware of two things. The 90 degree serial killer, and the smell of blood. Horror and fear made her lie perfectly still, eyes closed and head pounding. She was on her stomach and probably on the basement floor. Her hands tied behind her back and her feet tied with a strong chain wrapped in plastic. She opened her eyes just a slit, just enough to see. Dirty old furniture, stained broken down boxes and scattered pieces of Christmas decorations. She didn't recognize the basement, but she knew it was close to her neighborhood. Then she looked to the left side of the dirty basement and she saw a man standing near the corner taking a piss. The urine slapped the wall as if it was trying to penetrate the crumbling concrete.

There was a clock on the wall that also told the temperature. There was a glowing 88 for the high and a 62 for the low.

It never reached 90 degrees. It never reached 90 degrees. That was the only thing she could whisper and her heart started racing even faster. Of course there was the smell of blood, but she knew it wasn't coming from her. She was not harmed.

The man stopped and stared at the clock. He was whispering incoherently, but she knew he wouldn't kill her. He would only kill in 90 degree heat. That was his calling card. The news made it clear.

What was he going to do?

Miriam Ortiz concentrated on listening, she was feeling uneasy because of the ranting. She couldn't make anything out. She was wondering if he would change his own rules.

She then heard some normal words, but it was quickly masked by the high humming sound of the water heater. Fear concentrated right where she was tied. The smell of blood attacked her nostrils again, and then she saw the source. It was another woman who he had killed yesterday. She was tied the same way, and she had her throat slit with a crude dull knife.

Miriam knew it was a yesterday killing because the temperature had reached 92 for the high. She remembered seeing her there when she was dragged in. As far as Miriam could tell, there was no blood on the floor which meant all the blood around her had dried and became part of the dirty basement floor. Then everything went black when she was hit in the back of the head with a blunt object.

The serial killer moved slowly across the basement floor sniffing the air like a hound dog.

“88 degrees,” he allowed his voice just to rise a little. “88 degrees.”

With the rest of his body perfectly still, he slowly raised his right arm, keeping his hand limp, and his palm down with his index finger pointing to the clock. She jumped when she heard a cat screaming when it ran past the house.

He walked over to her and pulled a paper sack over her head. He held her face for a few moments in the palm of his hand, but then released it. She heard footsteps, and then the slamming of a door.

But nothing else. Try as she might, she couldn't hear anything else. She couldn't hear the water in the old plumbing nor the electricity humming in the lines not even the shifting and creaking of the old wood structure as fear pressed against the building.


Clip in, safety off, and a full round in the chamber. The action was quick and smooth after so many years of practice. Detective Laura Kimber walked into that basement and discovered two women tied on the floor. One dead and the other quivering in fear. She could see the dried blood on the floor as well as smell it.

Miriam Ortiz rolled and sat up all in a single motion her gaze darting around the basement warily. Something was recognized with a sense of familiarity, a person that was trained to protect her. She felt relief filling her senses, and dulling the throbbing pain in her head.

“Are you okay?” Kimber asked.

“It only reached 88 degrees,” she whispered.

© 2015 Frank Atanacio

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Comments 40 comments

Jodah profile image

Jodah 14 months ago from Queensland Australia

Wow Frank, I feel this is your best yet...gripping, and "the 90 Degree Killer" what a unique idea.


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 14 months ago from Shelton Author

hey Jodah thanks for the visit


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 14 months ago from California

Hi Frank! Are the ways of killers mysterious?? Very "cool" write! (pun intended!)


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 14 months ago from Shelton Author

thanks Audrey...")


annart profile image

annart 14 months ago from SW England

Thank goodness for that! At least one was spared. Great story and I like the temperature idea too. You always manage the 'fear factor'.

Ann


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 14 months ago from Shelton Author

thanks annart for stopping by :)


billybuc profile image

billybuc 14 months ago from Olympia, WA

You and Mike are the best fiction writers we have....your stories always entertain, Frank, and I appreciate them and you.


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 14 months ago from Shelton Author

thank you for your kind words Billybuc...:)


Missy Smith profile image

Missy Smith 14 months ago from Florida

Man, I just love reading your stories. So filled with little details that give the reader a perfect picture to the scene and the feeling one would have if in the character's (victim's) situation. Honestly, one of my biggest fears is to be abducted or if one of my children were to go missing. You just know after that, time is crucial, more than likely the outcome isn't going to be good if not found in 48 hours or less. It's such a scary thought, and one we all probably think about in this day and time.

It's very intriguing to think what may be going on in a killer's psyche. Like this character, the 90 degrees thing, the way he only kills when it is that temperature.

I just love reading your stories. You're a great writer Frank! :)


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 14 months ago from Shelton Author

Missy you're great for my ego..bless you


Dana Tate profile image

Dana Tate 14 months ago from LOS ANGELES

I loved this in the Laura Kimber series. Very creative and chilling, leaving the reader craving for more. Well done!


clivewilliams profile image

clivewilliams 14 months ago from Nibiru

i would have slaughtered them all before it reached 90 deg. Wonder what happened to that black guy with the handbag....oh no need. he was shot 15 minutes later...lol. Nice one frank....like your police http://hubpages.com/literature/The-Chill-in-90-Deg... hubs bro.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 14 months ago from The Caribbean

Like your title, and your story illustrated the chill very well. A very pleasant read about criminal events. If anyone can do that effectively, you can. Good to know this writer!


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 14 months ago from Shelton Author

Thank you so much Dana Tate, Jive Clive, and MsDora, bless you guys :)


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 14 months ago from New York

I think I was beginning to sweat! It is amazing that you can come up with the details and fear and push it right in our face.

If Miriam left with an ounce of sanity it's a miracle. Thank goodness for Laura, she's got all the other detectives beat. Loved it Frank.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 14 months ago from Southern Illinois

Frank, you are such an unique writer. The killer would only kill if the temp. reached 90 degrees and the woman knew it! I bet she was praying for rain. It was the black man's lucky day. I liked this!


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 14 months ago from Shelton Author

Till, thank you so much for reading my story.. bless you


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 14 months ago from Shelton Author

thank you always for stopping by.. she was praying for rain? LOL and you mentioned the purse snatcher too LOL thanks for reading :) Frank


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 14 months ago from southern USA

Hi Dear Frank,

I'm sorry I am slow to get to your page. Thank the Lord that summer is officially over! Heat can make people do crazy things, but thankfully, not this crazy. Interesting serial killer plot here with the heat factor.

Hooray for Kimber. Don't now how she knew of the basement dweller killer, but I am glad she showed up on the scene. Yep, always a red flag when someone is over 30 and living in their momma's basement eating Cheetos : ) Interesting photos there.

You are on top of your game with these flash fiction stories of yours.

Blessings


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 14 months ago from Shelton Author

LOL... this comment is just too much LOL.. truth be told this is a chapter in a new Detective Laura Kimber book I'm writing.. Just wanted it too see how many views it'll generate.. It looks good. first day it posted 240 views and now it's closing in on a thousand views.. it's not the highest Halloween did twice as much, but it still gives me that guiding point... and now who eats Cheetos in momma's basement?


Canonp23 14 months ago

Your descriptions are very well done, I can follow the story, from Kimber's cruising to the 90 degree maniac that has a calling card. The basement is well described, and the insanity of the serial killer is displayed very well my friend. Jack


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 14 months ago from Shelton Author

hey thank you Jack for reading my Kimber piece... Frank


shprd74 profile image

shprd74 14 months ago from Bangalore

Enjoyed, your killer is a true predictor. He knows himself and mends his ways to physcologically trap his victim too. Giving a false belief to his victim and that is sadistic to core.

Enjoyed the subtile characterization with excellent imaginative scenario of crime scene.

- hari


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 14 months ago from Shelton Author

thank you hari for stopping by will visit your page to return the favor :) Frank


Kirk33 14 months ago

This did feel like part of something bigger, nonetheless I really like that Detective Kimber chick


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 14 months ago from southern USA

That is awesome, Frank, about all of the views here. What a blessing to have such a wonderful readership in cyber world. Well, I think you have your answer about this chapter in your book. Don't forget about us when you make the NY Best Seller list! Then you can buy all the Cheetos you want : )


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 14 months ago from Shelton Author

Kurt, thank you and dear Faith.. LOL Cheetos I can't stop laughing I don't know why..:)


Vellur profile image

Vellur 14 months ago from Dubai

Intense and a thriller story. Great write. Glad Miriam Ortiz was oaky.


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 14 months ago from Shelton Author

hey thanks Vellur for stopping by


Genna East profile image

Genna East 14 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

Wow! As always, I am mesmerized by your stories, Frank.


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 14 months ago from Shelton Author

thank you so much Genna East


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 14 months ago from USA

Absolutely masterful, Frank. You amaze me.


Smilealot 14 months ago

You certainly turned the heat up with this one Frank, thankfully not too high!...another great write:-))


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 14 months ago from Shelton Author

thank you so much Flourish and Smilealot for stopping by bless you both


aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 14 months ago from Stillwater, OK

That was terrific. I felt like I was Miriam's shadow throughout this whole story. Great work, Frank.


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 14 months ago from Shelton Author

thank you aviannovice for stopping by :)


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 14 months ago from England

Wow chilling stuff! I actually read this out loud to my other half who was leaning over my shoulder, so I said, sit, I will read it! it sounds so darn scary out loud let me tell you! LOL! great work as always, nell


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 14 months ago from Shelton Author

Nell thank you so much for reading bless you


sujaya venkatesh profile image

sujaya venkatesh 11 months ago

how scary can you write


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 11 months ago from Shelton Author

sujaya thank you

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