Kinsley Hill was scrolling through the seventh newspaper article when a strange scraping noise overpowered the low hum of the old microfiche machine. She reached over, clicked the switch to turn it off, and craned her neck to peer into the darkened corners of the eerie basement. The “tombs,” as the librarians jokingly referred to it. Didn’t matter how many times she came down here, the place still creeped her out.
“Hello?” she called out as she unclipped her pepper spray from her bag.
She pushed back the chair as she stood and spun to face the enemy, pepper spray extended, finger on the trigger, ready to strike. The wood and metal chair teetered, fell backward and clattered against the terrazzo floor.
A breath exploded from her lungs. One hand went to her chest; the other holding the pepper spray dropped to her side. “Geez Louise, Dewey, you scared the crap out of me.”
Dewey was a black cat who lived in the library. They’d named him after Melvil Dewey, the man who created the Dewey Decimal System. No one knew where the cat came from, but he’d become the library’s unofficial mascot and had free run of the place.
He jumped down from the shelf, knocking off a stack of old magazines in the process. His butt swayed back and forth as he strutted over to her like he owned the joint—which he pretty much did. He zigzagged around her ankles, and his purring vibrated against her pant legs.
“What are you doing down here?” Kinsley reached down, scooped him up, and gave him some scratches behind his ears.
The purring grew louder and he bumped his head against her chin and slobbered all over her.
“Okay, that’s disgusting.” She tilted her head back and swiped her hand over her face.
“Mmerow.” His big, gold eyes gave her a look of boredom, and he put all four paws against her chest and pushed.
“All right, all right. Relax, you old grouch.” In deference to his age, she set him gently on the floor. Without so much as a backward glance, he flicked his tail a couple of times and disappeared under the old card file cabinets.
“What? No apology for scaring the crap out of me?” She called out, “And I suppose you expect me to pick up all those magazines now, too?” She sighed and did just that, then righted the chair and sat back down.
“Rude,” she muttered as she fired up the old machine.
Kinsley gave herself a minute to let the adrenaline dissipate through her system, then returned to the article. This one was titled LWT Killer Grabs Another Woman. The woman happened to be her older sister, Lorraine.
Last Will and Testament Killer was what the press had started calling him until they shortened it to LWT Killer. Allowed more room for flashy headlines. Her sister’s and the other victims’ stories had been splashed across the front page of just about every newspaper in the country. Have to satisfy people’s insatiable appetite for serial killers, right?
In the years since, Kinsley had gathered copies of every article, every grisly crime-scene photo, the evidence lists, and every single, horrifying page of every graphic autopsy report. She’d looked at them so many times, she couldn’t close her eyes without seeing them. Yet she was no closer to finding the psychopath who murdered all those poor women than she was the day she started her own investigation ten years ago.
Today was especially tough, being the thirteenth anniversary of Rainey’s death and all. Kinsley started calling her sister that as a toddler because Lorraine was too hard to say, and it stuck.
With each day that passed without finding the killer, the ever-present searing pain of loss chewed away at Kinsley one tiny piece at a time. She feared one day there would be nothing left but a black void where her soul used to be.
Some would argue that looking at old photos and articles about her dead sister wasn’t all that healthy. Couldn’t be any less healthy than her mom crying into a bottle of wine every night or her dad pretending like everything was just fine, as if his little family hadn’t been ripped apart by tragedy.
Then why did she still show up to this dreary place every single year to sit in this dank basement, using an antiquated piece of equipment, when she already had copies of all the relevant newspaper articles? Because in a weird way, she felt connected to her sister here. No real mystery why—it was the last place she’d seen Rainey alive.
Kinsley picked up the plastic-wrapped photo she always kept with her. It was a candid shot of the two of them, taken about three months before her sister disappeared. They were sitting on the back patio of the house they’d both grown up in, heads thrown back laughing about something. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t remember what had been so damned funny, and that terrified her. She didn’t want to forget anything about her sister. Not one tiny detail.
“I’m sorry I haven’t found him yet, Rainey,” Kinsley said as she traced her sister’s face with the tip of her finger. She shook her head and scrubbed useless tears from her aching eyes. “Sheesh, what was that about?” The only time she ever cried anymore was during one of her stupid nightmares. Hell, after all these years, you’d think she’d be all cried out.
A chill stole through her, and Kinsley pulled together the front of the olive-green pea coat she’d bought at a military surplus store. The wool jacket was a little too big and could be a bit itchy at times. But it had been cheap, kept her warm and, most importantly, it, along with the dark hat her sister had knitted for her, helped her blend into the shadows. An important asset in her line of work.
As a private investigator, she spent a lot of time lurking in alleys, seedy bars, or sitting in her car drinking crappy coffee while she waited to ambush a person with a court summons. Or her least favorite, surveilling a guy cheating on his wife or vice versa. She’d come to the conclusion that, in general, people sucked.
Being a PI wasn’t the most glamorous job, but it paid pretty well and gave her the freedom, contacts, and access to resources needed to track down the person who killed her sister and the others.
Kinsley also wrote a blog titled My Hunt for the Last Will and Testament Killer under the intentionally lackluster pseudonym of Mr. Roberts. She never mentioned being related to a victim, nor did she ever divulge her real name.
The blog was posted to all of the popular social media sites and chat boards. Someone had even begun sharing it on the dark web, which was totally fine with her. The more eyes seeing it the better, and, as a result, she’d built up a massive following.
The purpose of the blog was not to inform and titillate. Though informing and titillating were certainly byproducts. No, the blog was her way of letting the killer know someone was still coming for him and to hopefully smoke him out. One day, the evil son of a bitch would make a mistake, and she would be there to personally ensure he never hurt anyone again.