His kiss had caught her by surprise since the room was so dark she couldn't see him at all. He had whispered to her that he had memorized her face before the lights had gone out, and she had laughed, amused and amazed at his outrageous love for her. The sensations of his touch on her skin after that first kiss still lingered, even now, a year after his murder by some savage beast in the ravine behind their house.
Her family couldn't understand why she had stayed in the house after that. But it had been their house and each room held a memory of them together. Painting walls that turned into giddy splatter wars, and writing "i love you" on the walls. Hours spent sanding down the wood floors, and the time they had found themselves cornered by wet sealant when they hadn't thought to work towards the door. They had spent the night sleeping curled up in each other's arms, until the floor was dry enough to tip toe out of the room. Even now she could still see their toe prints faintly on the floor.
When she had gotten pregnant, they had been over the moon with excitement. They spent hours refinishing the room next to theirs for the nursery, arguing over names with each paint stroke, and each sanded board. They hadn't wanted to know the sex of the child before birth, and had finally chosen a first name that could be appropriate for either gender. They had agreed upon middle names using their grandparents names which would seal the gender. When their son was born, he had glowed for days with happiness and had driven her almost crazy by catering to her every need instantly.
Now, six years later and a year after his father's death, his face reminded her of him. Each time she heard him running down the stairs to greet her in the morning, her heart skipped a beat. There had been so much joy in that house, and she knew that she had to remain strong for their son.
The phone rang unexpectedly, startling her in the darkness, and as she stumbled over a chair the lights came back on. Gasping in pain from the fall, she answered the phone.
"Hello! This is Detective Frank Enstein. I wanted to let you know that we finally got the results back from the laboratory on the saliva found on your husband's wounds."
"What? It has been a year. I didn't even realize that the case was still open. I thought that you had determined it was some kind of animal?"
"Well, yes, that was our preliminary conclusion, but there was something about the saliva that the lab wanted to look into further. They found a connection to several much older unsolved murder cases."
"What does that mean? It wasn't an animal? Are we in danger?"
"We're not sure. We're sending equestrian and K9 teams out in the morning to search the ravine behind your house."
"What are they looking for?"
"About 60 years ago, there were a series of five murders on the outskirts of town. It was long before there was even any thought about DNA, especially in these rural areas, but one young police officer, my dad in fact, thought that he should preserve some of the evidence somehow. He managed to seal some of the clothing that had blood and saliva on it into glass jars that sat in a box in the lab closet. One of the older techs remembered something his parents had talked about in hush-hush tones at night, and how when he was a kid they had all been told to stay away from the ravine. I found my dad's file of his personal notes from the cases, and asked the lab if they had the box was still there. When they found it, they managed to extract a small amount of DNA from some of the fibers to test."
"Well, it turned out to be a match. An exact match actually."
"So what happened in these other cases?"
"They just had old black and white pictures and pencil sketches in the files that had mostly faded from age, but some of them were pretty gruesome looking. Not only did they kill the men, but in once case where they had broken into a barn chasing a man, they had killed a cow and a pig. Dad had penciled 'like a slaughterhouse' in the margin of his notes."
"And you think this thing, or person, is still out there after all these years? Haven't you watched too many X-Files episodes?"
"I know it sounds crazy, but not as crazy as the DNA matching was. If it is the same person, it could be the start of another series of murders. We've had inquiries from the county on the other side of the ravine about some missing hikers, but nobody made the connection until now."
"Is my son in danger?"
"I honestly don't know, but if you have a gun in the house, I think you should keep it close to you, and stay close to your son until we get this sorted out. I can send an officer out if you want to just keep an eye on things if you'd like."
"I don't have a gun, and I would appreciate it if you could send someone. I'm worried now."
"I'll have someone out there in the next ten minutes, but in the meantime, just keep the house locked up and the curtains closed. I'll call you as soon as the officer is there so you know who it is."
"Thank you so much. I really appreciate it."
Hanging up the phone, she limped around to make sure the downstairs doors and windows were all locked, and the drapes all pulled tightly shut before going upstairs to check on her son and pull his curtains closed. As she slowly went up the steps, she paused as she heard a noise from the stairs above her ...