Excerpt from the Prologue of On the Count of Three (Brandon Fisher FBI series)




“Op-Ed columnist Pamela Moore passed away today after a violent home invasion left her for dead. Pamela was…”

The reporter droned on, sensationalizing Pamela’s redeemable qualities while shoving all her faults, misgivings, and mistakes into a closet of obscurity. But it was a fine representation of Pamela’s real life: she had spun perspectives to make a headline. More than that, she had been so obtuse that she had painted his family as idyllic.

She knew nothing!

His heart was thumping in his ears, his mind replaying the reporter’s words: left her for dead.

As if he’d done that on purpose. He would’ve preferred she’d died right away.

He clenched his fists and focused on his breathing, on slowing his heart rate. Sometimes he wondered why he put himself through watching the video over and over. The incident had taken place just over three years ago.

Still, he settled into his chair to journey back in time. To listen to what the newspeople had said about his victim, her masked assailant, and what had looked like a home invasion gone horribly wrong. It reminded him of what he’d done right and where he’d failed.

Pamela’s fiancé came on the screen. He was the picture of calm put-togetherness in his pressed suit, standing in front of the camera with a microphone to his lips. He, too, was singing her praises and calling for justice.

But poor Pamela. There would be no justice for her. Her case was as cold now as her body in the ground.

He focused on the TV again and listened.

“Sadly, police have no suspects at this time but say the man who did this is considered to be especially dangerous. They don’t believe that robbery was the motive, and they warn women to remain vigilant.”

Her confirmed death and the reporter calling him especially dangerous were takeaways he rather enjoyed. He leaned forward, a smile playing on his lips as he stopped the recording and rewound the VHS tape. He was determined to dwell on the good that came with the botched murder of Pamela. He’d learned from his mistakes and his second murder had gone much better. While they say practice makes perfect, he didn’t greedily indulge. No, he only took out those he deemed worthy of his attention. It was enough to quiet the darkness inside him. But there were times that the burning need to take a life was all-consuming. He called that side of him the Night.

It was an authentic part of himself, having lingered in the background for some time, calling out to him, taunting him to listen to its petitions. And now, as a man of thirty-seven, he was no longer afraid or leery of this facet of himself. He entertained the blood-filled fantasies of the Night when it was prudent, and no more would he be robbed of the fulfillment that came with taking someone’s last breath. His preferred killing method assured that now.

The VCR whined down to a thunk. He got up from his recliner and ejected the tape. He returned it to its cardboard sleeve and put it back under a floorboard near the TV set. It was safe there.

He laced up his boots and headed out to the shed—where he was holding his latest victim. The Night purred within him, yearning to be satisfied. His heartbeat pulsed beneath his skin, anticipating what was to come.