Dexter eyed the brochure over once more with an exasperated sigh. He sat alone, a grown man brooding in the deathly silence of his dark, sterile home. And yet there he was; preparing for a high-school class trip.
He knew he would have to satisfy his dark passenger, especially during a rare slow time for crime in Miami, but even he was starting to think this would be a tricky one to pull off. Regardless, he was never one to turn down a challenge. It had been far too long as it was.
The glossy pages promised fun and sun on a two-day trip for students of the prestigious private school Adam Academy. His eyes glazed over as they fell across the text near the bottom reading "chauffeurs needed". He almost couldn't believe his luck when he saw Batista passing out the flyers and asking coworkers to help out for his nephew's trip. He pretended to put up a fight when Batista reminded him how he "owed him one". It was perfect. Just the excuse Dexter was looking for to finally get closer to the school, a task that was proving more difficult than anticipated since he really had no reason to be near a high school in the first place.
He strained to remember the first time he saw her. It was months ago now, down by the docks while on his way to another late night "drop-off". Obviously, somebody had the same idea. She was dressed in black and lugging several trash bags down the pier, making sure to stay in the shadows. Then he saw it; the gooey, crimson liquid leaking out onto the wood. His jaw clenched. One by one, bags dropped down and disappeared into a dark ocean. Dexter watched her with bated breath from his car. Who was this small, young creature? Perhaps she had been cleaning up somebody's mess. Maybe Daddy had a run in with a business associate or some teenaged boyfriend had too much to drink on the drive home. But then again, maybe not.
So he took her license plate number and did as much research as possible. He quickly learned that people seemed to mysteriously disappear around this girl. This girl named Haley Stark. This girl who witnessed the brutal rape and murder of her mother at the age of four. Who's father was an ex-CIA man, extradited when she was only twelve, leaving her to bounce in and out of foster homes.
Of course he felt an immediate connection with the girl. The childhood cut short by a tragic murder, a father in the law enforcement world to help hone the killing skills and avoid getting caught. They shared so much. But she was getting sloppy, her file described a court cased two years ago when she was nearly convicted of murdering two middle-aged men. She had forgotten to wipe down some fingerprints, a tiny mistake that almost put her behind bars had she not lucked out with a mistrial.
Now it was his turn to track her down.
It had certainly been frustrating for somebody as meticulous as Dexter; a possible target dangling in front of him and no foreseeable way to complete his usual rituals to move toward the kill. In his defense, exactly how was he supposed to research a teenaged student without looking like some kind of perverted, stalker? But now, thanks to tomorrow's trip, that was all about to change. Things were finally moving forward.
Dexter smiled to himself and quickly snapped shut his suitcase.
-The Next Morning-
"Alright students, lets' get going! Hey, come one, no shoving, guys!" The thin principal barely squeaked over the roaring mob of teens. Dexter watched from a distance as the youth filed onto the line of awaiting buses. There were so many of them, he hadn't realized schools had become so overcrowded. But that wouldn't slow him down, he knew exactly who to look for.
Finally, he narrowed in on the pale, young girl near the end of the line. She stood alone, calmly taking in the events around her. She stood short and thin, her dark hair neatly tied into a ponytail and her stance even managing to give off a casual air. There was an odd style about her, definitely an outsider in the school. She was probably invisible, just like he was in high school. He smirked to himself, she was just as skilled when pretending to be human as he was.
Her overall appearance was polished, a little too polished if anyone had looked close enough. She was plain, too distanced from the world. A loner book-worm probably far smarter than most of her teachers and a cold, calculated personality. She certainly fit the profile.
Dexter could only count the number of his female victims on one hand, let alone one so young. Criminal psychology told him women usually don't have the capacity to commit viscous attacks, which makes them unlikely to become killers. Now he was watching a seventeen-year-old girl who, he believed, had killed four people already. Not what he expected, certainly not what most people would expect. Yes, he knew right from the beginning this one would be different.
He slowly walked towards her to board the bus, making sure to stay somewhat close but avoiding contact in any way. It was going to take patience and skill, he had to be much more strategic for this one. One wrong move could ruin months of work. As he drew closer to her, he felt the familiar, primal rush of thrill that came on whenever stalking his prey. This was what he lived for.
It was strange, he felt sorry for her in a way. She was obviously bright and had her whole life in front of her. But her dark passenger took hold from a very young age, she never really had a chance. Just like him. He felt a sting of sadness for the life both she, and himself, could have had. He understood the burning blood-lust she carried, the relentless drive to watch the life run out of another being. The sickening power. But he needed more information first, he had to be sure, he had to follow the code.
She sauntered down the isle of the bus and took a seat alone near the front. Her eyes were blank as she starred out the window, her face held no expression. He could see her reflection in the glass and took the opportunity to study her features from the seat adjacent to hers. It was unmistakable to him; she was void. Disturbed and emotionless, ultimately broken just like him. The little glance he got screamed volumes to him, and he knew he would need to be extra guarded around her. After all, she may be able to see him the way he could see her.
Suddenly, she twisted her head quickly to look behind and he turned away just in time to avoid eye contact. Could she sense him? Did they share some kind of weird, serial-killer bond? He wasn't ready to eliminate the possibility. He couldn't be too careful.
After hours on the noisy, metal tube, Dexter was relieved to see the Howard Johnson come into sight. Finally he could get a break from the forced small talk among the adults and the constant commotion of rowdy teens. It would all be worth it soon. Even if it was just a reconnaissance mission, he knew it was a rare opportunity he needed to take advantage of.
The principal guided everyone off the bus as they gathered in front of the hotel. Dexter strategically placed himself behind his target in hopes of being grouped together. Then he would have a reason to stay close to her, he would be assigned her guardian, along with a group of other kids.
"Okay everybody, we're gonna have you break off into groups and set you up in your hotel rooms." The man was not good at addressing an audience, yet everyone eventually started to do as he said. Fortunately for Dexter, his plan had worked and the girl was placed into his temporary custody for the remainder of the trip. He smiled with relief and made his way towards the check-in desk.
This will do just nicely, he thought.