Gary Baxter had fantasies. Violent fantasies of rape and murder. In later high school, and in college, he actually had e-mail and chat-room discussions about how to commit these crimes. He suspected that some of his correspondents would never have the balls to do anything.

From childhood on, he'd bullied younger or weaker children. Animals were not safe from him. As he grew older, he concealed his violence with contact sports. He won a football scholarship to the University of Georgia.

At UGA, he failed to fit in with the team. The 'rough edges' the scout reported could not be smoothed. He had no discipline; he didn't study. His grades were terrible. When he wasn't at practice or in class, he read violent pornography or posted his fantasies.

By the end of his freshman year, he was so far behind in his classes and so far ahead in trouble that he had to leave.

His parents would not let him return home.

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In an Athens apartment he barely paid for every month, he continued to write his pornography, read pornography, and imagine what he would do to every woman he ever saw. He had a collection of 'adult' and fashion magazines, nearly every picture modified with painstakingly-drawn bindings, wounds, and torture implements.

He worked three jobs: unarmed guard at a gated apartment complex, a car-wash, and a fast-food restaurant.

The car-wash specialized in detailing. It was here that he saw Jennifer Byerly.

She arrived in a black Infiniti, told Rick she wanted the Supreme, and went to the waiting room.

Gary stopped waxing a Honda to watch her. Damn, but she was put together. Those legs went all the way up, and that mini-skirt ended maybe a half-inch below her crotch. He wanted to rip into those ample breasts.

Of course, she didn't even look at him.

Oh, you rich bitch, he thought.

"Hey, Gary!" Rick called. "Get a move on."

Sure, jerk. He returned to the Honda.

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Jennifer smiled her best man-catching smile at selected times during the day's errands. Inside, she smirked. None of the men were worthy to wipe Hrigo's butt. But the smile and her beauty were bait. Sometimes. People would notice if all her dates went missing.

She drove through the gate in the security wall, to the garage behind the family mansion.

A fresh cow-carcass hung in the meat-locker. Her mother and father glowered at it. "Beef, again?" she asked them.

"The intended prey had friends," her father said. "They met her here, and then left town."


Athens was still small enough to lack a homeless or transient population sufficient to feed the clan. The college students were off-limits, since they would be missed.

Right now, she had a different hunger to sate. "Where is Hrigo?"

"In the tunnels," her father said. Both parents chuckled. "Save some of that ardor for your wedding night."

"We're practicing."

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After a phone argument with his parents (something about an incident with his sister), Gary committed his first burglary. He bungled it (reality didn't match his fantasy), but escaped seconds before police arrived.

Subsequent burglaries gave him experience. He stole women's underwear. To confuse police, he sometimes stole money or jewelry. He'd throw away the jewelry and keep the money.

His social life continued inadequate. If his co-workers went bar-hopping, they never actually invited him: he just latched onto the group. He was always the one who went home without a woman. Women at work wouldn't go out with him. At the apartment complex he guarded, the women ignored him. A date he wrangled out of a supermarket meeting ended badly. She had needed a doctor (and felt too ashamed to report the beating).

He followed women and watched them, even bought a cheap digital camera to take pictures. The fantasies roiled in his head.

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During Gary s first month of crime, Jennifer Byerly brought in various cars and couple of vans. Expensive cars and vans. She always waited for them. Not a word or glance at him, even when he was the one who drove the car out.

After work one day, he drove around Athens, buying everything he had ever 'used' in his fantasies.

He increased his tracking, ignoring prostitutes and lower-middle-class women. They knew their places, so they weren't worth the trouble.

He also wandered Athens, looking for places he could take women.

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Midweek, on his way home from his security job, he saw a woman jogging. The situation was so similar to one of his fantasies that he had to try it.

He drove ahead of her and stopped. In the fantasy, she ran right into his fist, collapsed immediately, and he did what he wanted to her.

In the real world, she saw him and swerved to pass him just as he struck. His fist hit her shoulder, knocking her off-balance. He was so surprised that she almost escaped. Angry, he chased her down and tackled her. After hitting her enough to subdue her, he dragged her into his car.

The swerve was the first wrong note. Having to hit her more than once was the second. That wasn't the last.

No erection. Her moans of pain weren't as exciting as he'd imagined. He was so afraid of being caught that he couldn't even cut her as he planned. Instead, he stabbed her until his fear got the better of him and he ran.

As he fled, he smelled bad meat.

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The ghoul crouched in the bushes, watching. She'd considered killing the big male human, but had decided to wait. Murderers often left prime meat.

When the human ran away, the ghoul hoisted the body over her shoulder and headed for the nearest tunnel to the Byerly house.

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Gary kept trying to apply his fantasies. Twice, he had to run when he heard people. The women rarely let him do as he wished. Some kept trying to fight, no matter what he did to them. Those who did submit were just not right. None of them were satisfying.

Serial rapists have a fantasy of what is supposed to happen. Reality nearly never matches the fantasy, so they continue to try. If reality ever matches the fantasy, the rapist tries to repeat that one perfect experience. Gary Baxter was no exception.

He escalated his violence. But even though nobody ever found the bodies, he feared discovery. It was time he moved indoors.

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Jolene Callan hung up the phone. Her husband, telling her he'd be back in two days.

"Mom?" Johnny, age six, hovered in the entry to the living room.

"What are you doing up?"

"Me an' Tommy can't sleep."

She smiled. "Can't, or won't?"

"Won't!" Tommy chirped. "And can't." His smile faded. "I'm worried about Momma."

Irene Connolly was in the hospital for an appendectomy. Brad was there tonight. "It's okay, honey. Come here."

Both boys cuddled in her arms. "Doctors do surgery all the time, Tom. Your mom will be fine. Your daddy misses her. That's why he went to see her."

She held them until their eyelids drooped, then tucked them into bed.

An hour after that, the garbage cans crashed.

"Damn dogs." That was it. Tomorrow, she'd buy or build a frame. Right now, she had to get the trash picked up before the dogs scattered it all over the yard.

She opened the door to the carport. A fist slammed into her face, knocking her back. Someone jumped on her. "Let's party."

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Cursing, Gary collected his pictures and equipment. What was it with the bitches? Didn't they know anything?

This one had refused to beg or cry out. The few cries forced out of her weren't good enough. No erection.

Then, to top it off, a pickaninny had walked in just as he'd spitted her on a plunger handle. "You give it out to anyone, don't you?" he'd snarled, shoving the kid into the kitchen closet.

She had only yelled for another of her brats to call the police.

He'd had to kill her and get the hell out. No time for the wood-burner.

He escaped just minutes before the police arrived.

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The brutal rape-murder of Jolene Callan filled the news as far south as Savannah. Outrage at the crime itself was increased because a child had seen part of it. Tom Connolly and John Callan were shielded by their parents from the descending reporters.

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"It's unfortunate that he turned to indoor crimes," Matt Byerly observed.

Jennifer fed a choice bit of luckless hitchhiker to Hrigo. "Too bad," she agreed. "But I think he'll kill outdoors again. He's not very controlled."

"No, he isn't. We'll keep an eye on him."

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A week after the Callan murder, Gary cornered real estate agent Mary Johnson in a vacant house.

Once again, he was unhappy with the crime. She'd begged and pleaded wonderfully, but hadn't bled right. Again, no erection. He'd used dowel rods for the rape.

Another agent, showing the house, found the body.

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Gary got into Rick's files the next day and found the Byerlys' address. His heart sank when he saw the house: a modern, three-story mansion with a five-foot security wall topped with an iron railing and dotted with security-company signs. In addition, he saw the heads of the ugliest dogs he had ever seen in his life poking over the fence.

After a day of angry, frustrated, musings, he made his decision. He would follow her, learn her movements. Then he'd make her notice him.

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The ghouls noticed him. Matt Byerly ordered a tighter watch. The more human-looking ghouls took to the streets.

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While stalking Jennifer, Gary continued his other crimes. Some of the women he followed were only photographed. Some he killed. He felt he had to act whenever they were in a vulnerable place. They demanded to be attacked.

The bodies disappeared. Gary, unlike other killers, never returned to the scene to masturbate and relive the experience, so he did not know this. He was convinced that he had hidden the bodies so well that no-one could find them.

He did follow the news. When the papers and local news reported the FBI profile of the murderer of Jolene Callan and Mary Johnson, he almost panicked. It was too accurate. But he soothed his nerves by telling himself that most of it was plain wrong. He wasn't really under-employed: he was keeping up with the rent until he could find a better job. Nor was he disorganized. He could find things in his apartment. When he attacked, he had everything he needed and took his tools with him. And Athens was full of white males in their early twenties.

To avoid getting drunk and giving himself away, he stopped drinking. His absence at the bar-hopping was noticed, but not mourned. Now they could actually have some fun.

When people talked about the murders, Gary joined in, enjoying his secret knowledge.

There were reports of a big man seen lurking around the upper-scale neighborhoods and apartment complexes. The two women who had barely survived his first attacks could only describe their attacker as a large white male. He joked that the UGA football team was hard up for dates. At home, he worried about being identified.

To comfort himself, he would spread out the pictures he'd taken, and 'improve' them. Jennifer s photographs were singled out for special attention. He used them to illustrate a violent rape and murder fantasy he was writing.

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Vicki Steiner tried to be careful. She stayed alert, made sure he had her keys in hand on her way to car or house, carried pepper-spray.

Gary Baxter had his uniform, and a stun-gun.

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With three brutal rape-murders (and several missing women) in the news, people panicked. Hardware stores were stripped of every lock and security device. Security companies could barely keep up with orders for their services. Gun sales skyrocketed.

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Hrigo growled up at Gary s window. He had known Jennifer all his life. They had shared their first solid food at an auto accident, and been betrothed for two years. This human was hunting her, and he wanted to rip out the man's heart and present it to her.

Not yet, Matt said. Perhaps not ever. Police had to catch this man, so that things would return to normal.

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The 'nanny-cam' is usually installed by nervous, suspicious parents who don't trust the babysitter. In the Merrill family's case, it was a protective device: an overzealous social worker at a hospital had called the local child-protective agency when a sitter brought in one of the children for a cut from a fall. There had been a couple of old bruises on the child, and the doctor had assumed abuse. The Merrills went through legal hell to keep their children, and the sitter barely escaped being charged with child abuse.

The Merrills finally found Karina Dobson, who didn't mind the camera. Babysitting was a job, not a date-night.

If Richard Merrill's boss hadn't been an autocrat who demanded 100% attendance at company functions, they would never have left the house. Karina Dobson would have been at home, and she would not have died.

She did what she always did on a job: she locked the doors and windows, and turned on the outside lights. A security system was on order, but it would be a couple of days before it was installed.

The children were in bed by 8:30 pm (with the usual grumbles), and she sat up. Did some homework, checked on the kids, watched some television, checked on the kids. As always.

Outside, Gary lurked. It had been days since he'd been able to find a girl or woman home alone. He wanted time to work on a victim.

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Karina peeked in on the children (Bobby tended to play with his toys when he woke up, whatever the hour), then went back downstairs.

She stopped at the foot of the stairs.

Something was different.

A low, tinny, voice said, "If you want to make a call, please dial a number."

I haven t touched the phone! Someone was in the house.

Leave? Stay? What about the children?

If it was him, he wasn't interested in the kids.

She bolted for the front door.

Gary hit her in a flying tackle.

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The tape (edited) made the noon news. By the afternoon, an image from the tape, and an artist's sketch, were ready.

Gary s former teammates and classmates recognized him. His former teachers and coach recognized him. So did his coworkers. They called police.

After a quick stop at the bank to get all the money he had (about two hundred dollars), Gary headed out of Athens.

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He was speeding, which caught the attention of a bored police officer. When he ran a light while trying to lose the patrol car, two more joined the chase. His car skidded off the road.

Gary jumped out and ran. No-one would take him down. Those sluts deserved what happened to them.

The woods were close. Once he got there, he could lose his pursuers. He was in much better shape than the cops.

Broken-field running had been his specialty in college. He dodged the trees and bushes easily, while the officers crashed and stumbled. Triumph erased his panic. He'd do it! Outdistance them! Clean away and free.

Someone had flanked him. He caught glimpses between the trees. Who the hell was it?

The stranger angled towards him. He tried to dodge, tripped over a bush. Before he could move, the stranger was on him. Strong hands shoved his face into the ground, legs pinned his arms.

He fought, but couldn't even shift his weight enough to upset his attacker.

A cop shouted to another. Police crashed through the woods.

Whoever had jumped on him leaped cleanly up and disappeared before he could even get up on his elbows.

Gary scrambled to his feet as the police officers surrounded him.

Concealed ghouls watched as he was arrested.