By Derrick Smith - Iron City Paranormal
“Ma’am, please, You don’t want to go any closer.” A gruff-voiced police officer held out his arm. “It’s- , well, I’ve never seen anything like this before.” His head dropped, and his shoulders shrugged.
The woman let out a piercing shriek that echoed for what seemed like miles. He tried to push past the officer, but he pulled her back sharply enough to make her head snap back. All she could do was look on in horror as the blood leaked from the dumpster in front of her, each drop creating an endless pool of dark red ooze spreading slowly into the hospital’s parking lot.
She tried again to push herself forward, into the scene. “That’s my husband!” she sobbed. She sawa hand with a green ring gleaming in the sunlight. As she finally pushed past the officer, she froze in her tracks. What she saw was so horrific and grisly that bile rose up in her throat. It wasn’t her husband, or not entirely. The ring encircled a finger on hand that was just that - a hand. The rest of what lay there was unrecognizable as the man she loved.
Her hand immediately covered her rounding stomach. She looked down with tears streaming down her face. “He was going to be a father…”
2 Weeks Earlier
There was a knock on the door.
“I’m coming, hold on,” Maggie pushed herself out of the recliner and opened the screen door with a squeak. “Hi Paul,” she peered out onto the porch. The summer rain beat down behind the tall man. She had always thought Paul was an exceptionally handsome man, with a chiseled jaw and tousled dark hair. Despite that, Maggie had never seen him as anything more than a friendly neighbor.
He caught the door open for her when it swung off its hinges. “I told you I’d be happy to fix that for ya.” There was a long, quiet pause as she gazed at him, and he shrugged it off. “Anyway,” he handed her a package, “I think this is yours.”
She looked at it with her head cocked to one side. She reluctantly reached for it. “Thanks,” Maggie said with a hint of annoyance in her voice.
“Are you okay?” Paul shifted as if he wanted to come in. “I’m sure your morning sickness isn’t treating you very well in this heat.”
The summer air was stifling. Of course, this was when she’d finally get pregnant. Maggie and her husband Jack had been trying for months without luck. With all of the long business trips he took, she hadn’t even been able to tell him yet. He hadn’t seemed to notice that she needed him now more than ever.
She slipped back behind the door, closing it abruptly in Paul’s face. “You know you can’t be here.” Her voice turned very timid and quiet. “Anyway,” Maggie noticed Paul’s eyes drop to the wooden porch deck as if disappointed in himself, “I need my rest.”
With a fake smile, Paul nodded, and turned to walk back, down the newly paved sidewalk and past three-story houses. As she watched through the screen her mind immediately wandered to raising a child in this ever-expanding and growing town. Most of the buildings in this neighborhood had been renovated and turned over by previous generations. She wanted to join them, to put some money into their already beautiful home but Jack just wouldn’t hear it. No matter how persistent, or at times annoying, she was, he just wouldn’t budge, claiming that this house was fine and they were increasing their value just watching the rest of the neighborhood grow.
As she slumped back in her chair, wiping away a droplet of sweat, she laid the package on the floor without much more thought.
Maggie must have dozed off, because the next thing she knew, she was startled awake by another pounding on the front door. As she huffed and struggled to get out of her chair, she shouted “What now, Paul?” She sauntered to that same open door. She squinted out through the sunlight to a dark silhouette, “Paul?”
The door burst open, fracturing the wooden frame. As she shuffled backward, she tripped over the half-built bassinet slamming, her head off of something hard and unforgiving. The last thing she remembered was that black figure, with a dark hoodie draped over their face as her world went black.
The flickering light wavered above her, and the smell of sulfur engulfed Maggie’s senses. She slowly came to, trying to piece together what was happening to her. Footsteps thudded above her, and dust showered down all around her. As she tried to catch her breath, fear crept up inside of her for the baby inside her.
As Maggie composed herself she took note of her surroundings. Her arms were bound to a metal chair with belts, legs were tied together with a rope. The footsteps increased, pacing back and forth until she heard a door slam shut and a new pair of footsteps joining the others.
A low rumble of an argument was heard above as the footsteps then scurried toward the basement door. Suddenly, the area came into focus. Maggie peered out the small barred window. From this angle, she could see her own house! Could she actually be in…yes, she was…Paul’s basement!
Now her breathing picked up and she began to panic. Why, in God’s name, was she in Paul’s basement!? Without any more time to comprehend this, Paul’s beaten and battered body came tumbling down the stairs, landing with a loud and unsettling ‘thud’ at the bottom of the stairs.
“Paul!” she tried to shout, but her voice was raspy. In this same breath, Maggie coughed up a mouthful of blood. She struggled against her restraints, thrashing about, to no avail digging her straps into her wrists.
Paul inched toward her, slowly, on his forearms. He couldn’t speak. One eye was inflamed, a red and white puss seeping through it. His left arm was bent behind him and his right foot was spun almost completely around at a 180-degree angle. This sight made her sick to her stomach as she vomited next his mangled body.
The footsteps above picked up. Still, she heard two sets. ‘Another body?’ she thought to herself. Once more, Maggie didn’t have time to collect herself or her thoughts before the footsteps again scampered toward the doorway. This time, there was no sound of an argument or any voices at all.
As the light broke through the doorway, a woman, slender in build with dirty blonde hair, slowly made her way down the creaking staircase with a vape pen hanging out of her mouth. She reached the landing, took one long puff of her water vapor, then blew it out in Paul’s direction. This woman glanced back up the staircase as if awaiting her partner. As she waited, she glanced around and commented, “So this is where it all goes down, eh?” With a long pause, this woman cleared her throat and spit a wad of fluid onto the floor. She looked directly at Paul and giggled, “Sorry, Paul, but I think we should break up.”
The footsteps above ended at the doorway and began to make their way down the staircase. This was the dark silhouette she noticed earlier. He reached for this woman. “So, you met Lisa.” His voice sounded all too familiar.
Suddenly, he pushed back his hood as he reached the landing. He glanced back over his shoulder with a simple and very calm “Hey, honey.”
“Jack?...” she trailed off, her eyes going fuzzy, her body feeling limp, as she passed out once more.
“So this is how it feels, eh?” Lisa scoffed as she pushed and pulled the saw. The blood splattered across her face, dripping down to the floor. She smiled the entire time. Lisa enjoyed this.
After some more intense sawing and a combination of Lisa’s laughter and Paul’s shrieks of pain, a hand fell to the floor. It hit the ground with an absurd and disgusting plop, spewing blood from the now-revealed stump of flesh and bone.
“This won’t hurt a little,” Lisa smiled, “this will hurt a lot.” She picked up the bodiless hand and slapped Paul across the face. She moved down toward his leg. Without any hesitation, she dug the rusty blade into his ankle.
While his screams pierced the night, Jack sat nearby, speaking very softly. “So…”
He trailed off as if he didn’t know where to begin.
“Why are you doing this?” Maggie asked. Tears rolled down her cheeks mixing with Paul’s blood on the floor. “Please!” She cried out when there was no reply from Jack.
He simply shook his head. “You two…together.” The blood seemed to rush to his face. “I didn’t want this. Not any of it.”
She sat in utter silence. The kind of silence that you can hear. The kind that is louder than the screams of the damned. She couldn’t believe this. This torture and abuse because he thought her and Paul were ‘together?’
“Don’t worry,” Jack explained. “Paul’s almost done. You’ll be next.”
As she contemplated this, still flabbergasted by this claim, she simply screamed at the top of her lungs, perhaps at the top of the sound barrier. No one came. This basement was soundproof, much like the rest of the neighborhood, sheltered by a stone foundation and blown insulation. “We weren’t together!” She sobbed, tears and blood rolled together beneath her. “I don’t understand! Why are you doing this?”
Jack slowly pushed up off his knees and oh so casually picked up a heated iron. “This…” He trailed off, steam pouring out of the iron, and pressed it against the nub which was once Paul’s hand. It sizzled and hissed as Paul passed out from the immense pain. “And this…” Jack pulled back, some burnt skin still attached to the iron, and moved it toward Lisa where she just finished detaching his foot, which much like the hand, thudded to the ground with a grotesque pound. Jack pushed the iron up to the stump of his ankle forcing it to hiss once more.
She cried out, pleading, begging, near convulsing knowing that she was next.
Jack threw the iron at Maggie, clipping her shoulder and falling to the floor cutting her leg in the process. “You’re a monster!” He then bent down to help Lisa to her feet, all the while flashing his badge. “You really think that I was away for work?” He took a step back. “I have been investigating these murders for months! And can you imagine my shock when I finally tracked down the man responsible for this massacre!?”
She swallowed hard. “Wait, you think that Paul did this?” Maggie gasped, still gathering herself from the immense pain. “And then you do this to him!? You’re the monster, Jack!”
Lisa started to brush off the blood that stained her white shirt a dark red. “Paul has been cheating on me for months anyway. He had this coming.”
“You still don’t get it, do you?” Jack reached for his holster, revealing his pistol.
She looked on in disbelief. “Get what?!”
Jack and Lisa glanced at one another. “Just own up to it” Jack calmly requested.
“To what? To what?” she pleaded, tears once more stung her eyes.
Lisa punched her, hard, with a right cross. “You two have been on this killing spree for how long?!” She pulled back to strike her again but Jack grabbed her arm. “How dare you! And in my house! In my basement!”
Jack slowly bent down, enough to stare directly into her eyes. “Just admit it, I want to hear it.”
Maggie’s face showed pure terror mixed in with utter confusion.
If Jack didn’t know any better, he would think she really had no idea he was onto her. He was so close to the truth he could smell it. Strangely enough, with the end being so near, he could physically smell a burning, yes, burning of fire and brimstone. A burning of Maggie’s soul in hell for the chaos and death she caused. He didn’t care, he had waited so long for this moment, and nothing else mattered. “I just don’t understand why, that’s what I don’t understand. Tell me why!”
Maggie peered down at her feet, the blood was dripping from the mark of the iron. “I...I don’t understand…”
Paul coughed, and blood spewed from his pierced lips. “It worked,” he grumbled from his prone position.
Jack stepped back, and glanced first at Lisa, then toward Paul, a small sliver of fear showing in his face now.
Lisa glanced over at Jack, confused. “Wait, what?”
“Oh sweetie,” Paul began, “I never cheated on you…I loved you…I adored you…” More blood seeped out, and he spat toward the pair. “And you…” he stared almost through Jack. “All the beatings, the abuse…” he coughed now, growing even weaker, “I heard about all of it, in grave detail.” Paul’s glare turned toward Maggie, her eyes watering, “Your wife was the perfect target.”
Now Lisa fell back behind Jack. It was Jack’s turn to look toward her in a perplexed state. “But all the evidence, it was both of you…together.”
“Oh please, Jack” Paul scoffed with his body bokeh and bleeding. “Your wife? A murderer?” More blood spewed. He attempted a weak laugh.
Jack reached for the package laying in the corner. “Explain this.” He ripped into it. “More body parts,” he threw it across the floor, amputated fingers flying toward Paul. “This package was sitting next to my wife! Maggie was in the process of packaging these up to send them again!”
“No!” Maggie shouted, blood trickling down from the corner of her mouth. “Paul just brought that to me today!”
A tear broke free in Lisa’s eye, “What…what…” she couldn’t even finish her question, instead Lisa dropped to her knees and broke down in a full-fledged sob. “You told me they were part of it, Jack!”
“And you,” Paul stared a hole through her. “I know you’ve been taking my money.” Another long silence followed. “Did I care? Not at first.”
Jack stepped forward, grabbed for his gun once more, “I have video of you two, together, plotting this twisted murder spree! How can you deny that?”
“What were we doing together?” Maggie yelled as fear and frustration warned with confusion inside her. “We talk, we vent, we bitch about our problems.” After another pause, gathering herself “I don’t know anything else, your case, these murders, you’re insane!”
Silence ensued, no one knew where to go from there. Maggie did though, she was just biding time. Jack wasn’t just imagining that smoking smell, oh no. The iron that fell to her feet was burning the rope and she had used the blood around her wrists to wiggle free. These next few moments were a blur to the entire group:
Maggie jumped out of the chair just as Jack had pushed back against the wall.
He saw her lunging and he reached toward his holster for his pistol, but she threw her body against him forcing him to drop it and it went careening across the room.
Lisa was still enthralled in her grief and confusion on the floor.
Maggie grabbed the saw at Lisa’s feet and slammed the butt end into the back of her head sending her sprawling face down on the floor.
Jack was recovering and lept for the gun just as she slammed the saw down into his shoulder throwing him to the floor in a puddle of blood.
She made her way back to her feet, gingerly picked up the vape pen from Lisa’s pocket and took a long drag before setting back down in the metal chair to pull herself together.
Paul was dying. The duo never cauterized his wounds and simply burnt the dismembered extremities. In only a week, he began to see signs of infection and unknown blood loss. His face was taut and gray. He lay on his bed upstairs and quietly, almost in a whisper, asked her for a favor. “I just want vengeance…” Paul trailed off, gasping for breath.
Maggie said nothing. There was nothing left to say. Paul was vengeance. Maggie was righteous. Paul’s murder spree had already become infamous, dubbed the Ohio River Killer by the media, but now they were in this mess together.
Maggie knew what needed to be done.
Lisa’s body parts began appearing on street corners over a week. It began with her hand and foot; the same pair she took from Paul. Naturally, he was too weak to do the physical cutting but, out of a twisted sympathy, Maggie made sure that he was able to watch every gruesome moment. Eventually, Maggie was instructed how to amputate and ultimately removed her legs down to both knees, and Lisa’s arms down to the elbows, and was even shown how to take off her ears and eyelids. Once these body parts were all severed, Paul asked to set her on the third floor, overlooking the empty streets and with a view of the hospital. As her extremities were discovered from anonymous tips, Paul’s typical modus operandi, Maggie made sure she was awake to witness the entire scene. Lisa did attempt to scream and yell at the random pedestrian but every time she did, Paul would instruct Maggie to remove an additional piece of her remaining face: tongue, nose, and cheeks.
No one came looking for Lisa. She had nobody; except Paul. Now that he was about to perish, she would meet the same fate. Maggie locked Lisa, well Lisa’s remaining torso, inside a small 6 x 4 steel dumpster, and rolled her right behind the hospital. The employees never seemed to pay much notice but Maggie was nice enough to face and position her to look out the hole peering at the ever-so-close emergency entrance. With no tongue, and her mouth sewn shut, Lisa was left here to pass away quietly right alongside Paul who opted to join her.
The following week Maggie made herself comfortable and prepared to tell Jack the entire story, at least as explained by Paul. Aside from this being Paul’s final request, she just needed to get it off her chest to someone, anyone, and hell Jack was here and now that he was beginning to lose himself little by little so he could be her someone.
She set him up in that same metal chair and prepared him with some Tylenol and antibiotics. He would have no choice but to listen and watch and naturally not run off.
It all started about a year ago. Jack began to take cases that stretched him out of state but that was okay, she needed her alone time. All the while, she befriended Paul who also was a loner. His girlfriend, Lisa, had begun to also travel for work. She was a writer and could have done her job from anywhere and Paul just didn’t understand her want and need to travel, at great expense, his great expense, for long periods.
Their friendship grew and as they began to share each others’ life stories, passions, and secrets, their grief was also shared. Between Lisa’s constant spending and lying about it to his face and Jack’s blatant control over her, the abuse, and degradation.
Paul’s breaking point was when Lisa returned home for mere hours only to turn back around and travel to Aruba for a new writing project. She explained to him, with the utmost confidence, that she would be spending her own money on simple expenses. While these simple expenses may have been true, she also stole cash Paul had stashed throughout the house and his credit cards, some of which she opened up in his name without him knowing. This, she spent on top-notch, well, everything. From alcohol to restaurants to strip clubs she spent every cent and lied directly to his face. The moment he brought it up to her, she denied it and even threatened to leave him. He simply couldn’t take any more.
As Paul’s troubles accumulated, so did Maggie’s as she had been trying to convince Jack to start a family with her. Unfortunately, they were unsuccessful for the longest time. Naturally, this was all her fault. Jack had nothing to do with this. Each time she tested negatively, she received a beating from slaps and punches to belts and ropes. She couldn’t take it anymore. Jack had already forced her to distance herself from her family, both physically and emotionally. Her friends all left her behind as he would get jealous and not allow her any pleasure or time with anyone but him. Maggie vented to Paul regularly, so much so that Paul felt a pull, an attraction, one that Maggie truly did not want. This got to Paul, he took this personally when Maggie would not act for herself.
Paul’s plot began with simple degenerates; drug dealers, the homeless, whores. He worked out of his basement, essentially fashioning it into a dungeon. Since Lisa was rarely home, he simply added additional locks and changed out keys regularly to keep her out. At first, it was simple and to the point, beat and cause harm, taking out aggressions and acts of rage on these lowlifes. He would simply dump these poor souls in the nearby Ohio River in numerous locations, in far-off dumps, or even new construction sites which were just pouring foundations. Disposing of the bodies was easy enough as he could make long trips without anyone really paying notice. These murders were never truly tied together, at least not until Jack got involved.
As his horrific deeds increased in frequency, Paul’s lust and need for more blood and death forced him to change their routine. He then targeted those who looked like both his and Maggie’s emotionally lost lovers. These unfortunate doppelgangers helped Paul take out his anger and even left him emotionally level-headed and seemingly cured of his hatred for both of their partners. This only lasted about two or three victims when he realized his true need; to be emotionally attached in some fashion.
This began with lost loves, the first of whom broke Maggie’s heart after a miscarriage. Paul heard all about this, in detail. His name was Alex. Alex was very unaware of the situation and when Paul drugged him Alex didn’t even acknowledge her existence. This enraged Paul and he didn’t even hesitate to take a butcher knife, cliche but his preferred method, and chopped off three of his fingers. This sparked something inside Paul, deep down. This was the start of his true serial killer mentality. After dispatching the fingers behind the nearby school, he watched the chaos ensue from the third-floor window.
Next victim: his stepfather, Frank. He would degrade Paul and send him to military school when he was young. This was a little more difficult for Paul to get near him. However, he creatively gathered intelligence where Frank would spend his evenings; in the Loose Moose Saloon. It was easy enough to slip some Rohypnol in his drink and even had the bartender help him get Frank to his SUV.
Paul’s violence escalated as he removed Frank’s left hand, the one which he beat Paul with regularly. Instead of simply leaving it somewhere for crowds to gawk, he had Frank sit at the window with them watching in sheer agony and hoards of people would circle the misplaced body part.
Instead of simply murdering and taking his rage out on those who had severely hurt both himself and Maggie in the past, he maimed and tortured them, leaving them suffering with a missing limb every other day. Each time he performed these macabre surgeries, Paul would stitch their wounds up to the best of his ability so this pain could be had all over again.
Paul would rotate his tortured victims between his and Maggie’s past but unfortunately, their lives would expire after they were left as a torso with no extremities. He did dispose of these cadavers behind the hospital up the street and watched as municipal waste crews would dispose of them without notice.
Paul continued his spree with former family members and friends who left both of them high and dry. He felt like they were doing the world a favor, not to mention Maggie, and finally, after about a year, he grew tired of cleaning up both of their past lives. It was time to act and finish the job that made him truly begin this homicidal craze.
This all led to what he saw as his grand moment. The one he had been waiting all of his life for, disposing of both of their significant others with no remorse. However, after so long, Maggie finally found out she was pregnant and only told Paul, continuing his infatuation with her thinking he was her person and the closest thing to a family member he’s ever had.
Even though Paul wanted to complete his mission, Maggie felt like something was off and even refused to see Paul any longer. One fatal evening, Jack took his frustrations out on Maggie, as he struggled to track down this serial killer. Paul, upon hearing this, had enough.
He knew it was time to complete his final and greatest feat, and finally, it would just be the two of them: Paul and Maggie. What he didn’t realize is that Jack was close to solving these heinous crimes. This all came to a head that very day that Paul brought another package to Maggie’s house, just another piece of evidence he had been planting all throughout this murder spree.
Jack was forced to watch as his own wife removed the body parts of a woman he’d barely met but put in this position with his greed and pride. As he attempted to squirm away, call for help, and even fight back, Maggie kept him at bay. She continued to drug him and forced him to watch the incidents out the window and watched the news nightly as the story played on a near loop claiming that the Ohio River Killer had expanded his territory and spread fear throughout the entire country.
After she disclosed Paul’s entire murderous rampage and cleared her conscience, she prepared to complete Paul’s final grand design. As Jack’s demise neared, she very slowly, slower than Paul’s disgusting normalcy, began to take him apart piece by piece. She would extract pounds of flesh, simply leaving them on the road for stray dogs to devour. After she deconstructed his limbs leaving him with limited body parts, his ring-fingered wedding hand and his right foot, the same which Lisa took from Paul, he pleaded with her for his life and that she was an innocent wrapped up in this disgusting reign of terror
Maggie was irate. He acted as if he knew her but Jack was so far removed from their relationship that he didn’t know anything about her anymore. He didn’t even know that she was pregnant. She didn’t want him to know.
He continued and asked her how many people she could help by showing them that she didn’t harm anyone and that the truth was that Paul murdered all of these people. That she survived this brutality that she would be the center of attention and even get the spotlight put on her on the biggest stage.
Maggie did not want any attention, and Paul did that to her. He molded her, turning her into what she truly was: Paul’s true love and the one to carry on his legacy.
Jack did not deserve to be part of Paul’s story, she would create her own. She decided against following through with Paul’s wishes, rather, Maggie took it upon herself to force Jack to suffer as long as possible.
After she loaded up her belongings, she planned on moving on. She wanted to go someplace else far away to raise her child, to ‘help’ others. So, without much more hesitation, she took the final piece of Jack: his hand, and his wedding band, and tossed them unceremoniously in that same dumpster that Paul and Lisa were placed inside of.
Maggie made an anonymous call to the police station from Paul’s residence. She told them that Paul had done some terrible things and decided to end it all.
Her front-row seat to this extravaganza was her true send-off. She wanted to be there as the crowds formed, as the chaos ensued, and as the fear spread. She laid the severed hand, ring and all, outside the dumpster and allowed the blood to pour out. She waited in her SUV for her moment.
The anonymous call brought the police to Paul’s basement, tying him to the Ohio River Killer once and for all. What they found when scouring the house was beyond comprehension. The mangled body of Jack was hung upside down in the basement, a gash on each cheek and forehead ultimately led to his body almost completely drained of blood. He was left to suffer to rot for crimes only known to one person who, to this day is still hard at work avenging those who need significant and specific help; righteous help.