Here it is! You're the first to see it! The book will be released Jan 30th. I hope you love it. It's one of my favorites! Enjoy the prologue.
© Copyright 2014 by Morgan Kelley LLC All rights
reserved. No parts of this publication may be
reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any
means, electronic or mechanical, including
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or retrieval system without written consent from
the author. All characters are fictional
and any similarity to real life or individuals is
There was no doubt that he liked the basic pleasures in life and could find happiness in the smallest things.
What gave him the greatest joy was a freezer full of meat and a belly that was full of food at the end of a long day.
Who didn't like that?
In life, you had to take the small moments and cherish them as if they were your last. To some, a meal was never thought of more than a daily task, but to him it was an adventure.
Coming home to food was a luxury that he would never overlook or be ungrateful for. It meant too much to him on so many levels. Having the lingering scents of a home cooked meal assault you, as you walked in the door, was like that warm pair of socks that you slid into on a cold morning. Food offered you comfort and a peace of mind.
It gave you pleasure.
And most importantly, it sustained you.
When he first decided to consume human flesh, there had been some wariness. After all, there was nothing more taboo in the world of man. Eating another person was just wrong.
Then, he had his first taste and all the preconceived notions fell away and realization dawned.
It was fantastic!
At that initial bite, it coated his tongue like butter and gave him an endorphin rush. That moment alone, had cemented into his mind that he couldn’t live without it.
It became his obsession.
At first, the compulsion began to slowly grow. A whole body could last almost a year, as he peppered his hunting and grocery shopping with a human delicacy. Unfortunately, as his lust for flesh increased, so did his need to kill.
Something about it held him in its grips and controlled his every waking thought.
In all honesty, it turned his stomach to hear their pleas for mercy to be set free. When he tried to explain to them that he needed them to die so that he could have food, they always looked horrified. A part of him couldn’t blame them, and yet he wasn’t able to stop.
Eventually, he began rationalizing it away. To him, they were offering up the ultimate gift.
It was the same with beef or pork. The cow and pig were revered to him and almost sacred. Without them, there would be no steak or bacon. Well, to him, the victims were the same thing. Without human flesh, he would be missing his favorite meal.
Whenever anyone tried his ‘secret’ recipe, they would ohhhh and awwww over it, and for good reason.
It was spectacular.
When he used any other flesh, it didn't taste the same. So, the sacrifice had to be made. He needed the succulent flesh to be that of a human. It was his undisclosed ingredient, and one that he could never go without.
Some might find it vile or revolting, but he found it to be a testament to his great strength. Not everyone could sit down and eat a friend. Eventually, logic prevailed and rules had to be established. Why hurt those he cared for? When he ‘shopped’ for his next meal, he only picked people who he didn't like.
It was logical, right?
Why eat your buddy, when you could eat the person who cut you off in traffic or made your life difficult that day? It was, after all, the final payback for being disrespectful or rude.
But now, he had a few problems.
The people who he had been taking were beginning to draw attention. Who knew that a few missing people a year would draw suspicion? He was careful to not leave evidence and to only pick the ones who really deserved it.
When no one missed that first man, he believed that he was in the clear.
Now, his freezer was almost empty, and he was addicted to the hunt.
It was becoming time once more to go out on the prowl and find the perfect person to give him what he needed.
What he deserved.
What he wanted.
What he craved.
For now, he needed to refill his stock of fresh meat in his freezer and his belly.
Part of him tried to rationalize with logic, warning him that he was going to get caught one day, but the piece that had become addicted to the meals was fighting back hard. The inner dialog battled back and forth, but ultimately the hunger overcame logic.
It always would for him.
He needed to work out a plan. He couldn’t just randomly pluck a person off the street. In case this person drew more suspicion, he needed to have a well thought out strategy. In time, the next meal had been planned. There was one person who came to mind, as he pondered the myriad of people who he could choose from.
This person wasn’t too fat.
He wasn’t too thin.
Fat equated to greasy meat, and that didn't sit well in his stomach. The heartburn was hell, let alone having to strip away all the subcutaneous fat before cooking.
It was disgusting.
There had to be balance. It was like the perfect recipe. If you didn't pay attention to the ingredients, you didn't get a delicious meal.
The meat on this man was relatively perfect. He wasn’t too muscle bound, and he wasn’t scrawny either. From experience, he knew that sinewy, stringy muscle didn't cook as well either. Even if you slow stewed it for hours, it wasn’t right.
The only thing that he had going against him was age. Most of the people who he brought to his kitchen were younger, but alas, he would give him a try. If worse came to worse, he would have to spend some time creatively tenderizing him before cooking. He had a meat mallet and plenty of elbow grease.
Then again, there wasn’t anything a stew couldn’t hide or make palatable, if served with a loaf of crusty bread. This man’s flesh wouldn’t go to waste.
Besides, he was poking around and asking too many questions. He was becoming the burr in his side. The man was apparently too nosey for his own good, and while he appreciated people who were thoughtful and intelligent, he didn't want his ruse to be discovered. While no one else had suspected anything, this man was digging into a past that he should simply let die.
Like his victims.
He just kept digging and that was a big problem. So, his fate was sealed. His body was next on the list to fill his freezer. He only prayed that he could get away with it. Hopefully, once this man went missing, the truth would be buried forever. This time, the police would remain clueless.
Then, he laughed at the absurdity of that statement.
Who the hell was he kidding?
The man who was now sheriff was nothing less than a complete and total idiot. How he had gotten the council to make him leader was a surprise. If they saw anything redeeming in his skills, they kept it a secret. No one believed the town to be safe under his watchful eyes.
If anything, he was a womanizer and not an officer of the law. Then, he pondered the situation at hand. Taking this particular man might work to his advantage after all. Since the man was clueless, why not head to the epicenter of the town and take what he so desired?
It should be easy.
Sitting down to the table, he stared at the last banquet he was going to have from the freezer stock. It did his heart good to see the fine meal that had come from his ingenuity. With a little spice and some TLC, the meat had become a masterpiece.
Maybe he needed to write his own cookbook.
‘One hundred and one ways to eat your fellow man.’
He found that outrageously funny, and who wouldn’t?
Taking his first bite, he savored the moment. Until he was able to get his hands on the next person, it would be plain old chicken for him.
God, he hated poultry and its flimsy flesh.
So, that meant working fast.
Time was of the essence in this situation. He wouldn’t be able to falter or dilly-dally. His daddy always taught him to grab the bull by the horns and take what you wanted, and he desired to have a full belly, and freezer, more than anything else in life.
Now, he was going to make his move.
It was time to bring home the bacon, so to speak.
Soon, it would be time to have a feast.
It just didn't make sense.
The more that he studied the autopsy reports, the more they looked wrong. In his heart, he knew that he had done each postmortem accurately. After all, he prided himself on years and years of practice, but he had to be missing something. His gut feeling was screaming that there was a big piece of the puzzle missing from this file.
He just didn't have a clue as to what that was.
When the bones were pulled from the river, he was more than just suspicious. What drew his attention to them were the markings that crisscrossed their surface. It was something that he had never encountered before, and he wasn’t sure if that was because he was from a small town, or if this was something new. Everyone around him was claiming that the cause was some sort of hungry animal, but his gut was telling him otherwise.
The teeth marks looked…
By no means was he an expert on anything like this, but he was a doctor and had been trained to think outside the box. God, what he wouldn’t give to have an anthropologist or specialist to have a second look. Their expertise could help him figure this out.
He was certain of it.
Leaning back in his chair, he stared at the photos of each bone. His lab staff had done a careful job of collecting all the evidence from the watery grave. But then again, he expected nothing less from them. Each one had been trained and worked under him for years. In a sense, he was their mentor in the world of death.
Yet, now he had to wonder if they had missed something. Could he have?
It wasn’t like they had a slew of killings or deaths in the town. It was, after all, Salem. Their tranquil little berg was known for being calm, backwoods, and relatively law abiding.
That’s why he loved it there and called it home.
Salem called to something deep down inside of his soul. For years, he thought about becoming a medical examiner in some big city, but that just never happened. Salem lured him in and made him content. The balance between the people and the peace was incredibly cathartic.
When you lived with death, you wanted as much harmony in the rest of your life as possible.
Staying for over fifty years was the best decision that he had ever made. He couldn’t imagine a single day outside of Salem. When life left him barren, home filled his soul. The relationships, which he had built over the years, gave him something that nothing else ever could.
When people would ask him when he was retiring, he had one simple answer. He would only call it quits when he was on his own slab for autopsy. Then, they would have to find someone to come in and do the exam.
He wouldn’t care at that point, but for now the idea that age was making him slow and sloppy only exacerbated his irritation. Looking around, Samuel Trudeaux took in the place that he called his second home. Granted, it wasn’t as exciting as some other morgues around the country, but in a sense it was all his. Each tool, machine, and piece of equipment was lovingly fought for and brought into that office by him.
Samuel had built the place from the ground up.
When he first came out of medical school, he went home to be the ME and had to do battle to get the morgue built. Thanks to generous town folk, he was able to eventually get it done.
Now, it stood in its grandeur right beside the sheriff’s station. Like the morgue, he too was a monument in the town. One of the best things about living in Salem was that everyone knew your name. In a way, he had become a living legend there. So many of the townsfolk were in awe over what he did. Not many would willingly dig into the dead on a daily basis. When Samuel would walk down the street, the residents would call to him and greet him with nothing but kindness and friendship.
This town was as much a part of him, as he was the town.
Staring down at the reports, he couldn’t help but get that sick feeling in the pit of his stomach. Something was brewing there, and he had to be worried about it. What kind of citizen would he be if he let it slide, only because he was perplexed over it?
He took an oath and made a vow.
That mattered to him a great deal.
There had been only one other time where he was fearful like this, and it was when his best buddy, Charlie LaRue, had begun digging into a pair of suspicious deaths. Ultimately, they had cost him his life, but justice had been served in the end.
That was all that mattered.
And now, this was the same feeling bubbling in his belly. Charlie would tell him that if it felt off, it was. The man had been wise beyond his years, allowing his cop suspicion to lead the way, fuelled by his gut.
Now, it was his turn to do the same. Samuel couldn’t turn his back on this and feign ignorance. Duty was a calling, and he was an honorable man.
Yeah, something was definitely wrong.
He made notes in his files and tucked them safely back into his medical bag. For now, he would take them home and study them some more. If worse came to worse, he knew who he could send them over to and have her take a quick look. Charlie had once done the same, and she had been the salvation that Salem needed.
Elizabeth wouldn’t think that he was a crazy old man, losing touch with reality. In fact, she would most likely think the opposite.
She was just like her father, thankfully. It was apparently a genetic thing, and it led her down the path that she now traversed. There was pride there, as he thought about the young girl who grew into a fine woman. He was glad that he was able to have a part in her rearing. Like his job, it filled his heart and chased the emptiness away.
“We’re not done yet,” he stated, taking one last look at the final file. “I’m going to figure you out, if it’s the last thing that I do,” Doc Trudeaux said, as he snapped closed his medical bag and pulled on his coat.
Something ugly was brewing once more in Salem, and he was going to stop it.
This was his town, his place, and his people and as far as Samuel was concerned, he was going to help contain the sanctity of his home.
No one was going to tarnish it.
It wasn’t happening now or ever.
Samuel Trudeaux was taking a stand.