Jason Ford was a predator. Oh, he didn't think of himself as a predator. In fact, if you could get into Jason's shallow mind you would find he seldom thought of himself at all. Jason led a thoroughly unexamined life.
Jason had enough self-discipline to have mastered the art of driving a truck. He lacked the self-discipline to save his money and buy a truck of his own. Jason was all about his appetites, and how to fulfill them. That is how he came to be an itinerant truck driver, traveling by bus from job to job.
That is how he ended up on Greyhound bus 896, making the milk run to Salem, Oregon.
As soon as Jason stepped onto the bus his instincts brought his head around. He locked onto the young blond sitting halfway back on the right side of the bus. Female, attractive in a desperate sort of way. Obviously not mentally stable.
Did he smell her? Did some scent bring his other senses on track and focus his attention on this potential prey? Or were there psychic elements involved, instincts that went far back into the sub-human source of his genetic substrates? Jason did not care. No part of him questioned the power or source of his instincts.
He had appetites, and this forlorn creature would satisfy them for a time.
Though the bus was not crowded he made his way down the isle and sat next to the young woman. She glanced at him, then returned her gaze to the bus platform outside of the window. To a trained eye that glance would have indicated the disease below the surface. Paranoid schizophrenic? Bipolar?
Jason had no thought there. He knew she was crazy, that she was a psycho chick. Easy pickings.
He settled back and paid her no attention. Her gaze took in whatever scene passed by outside the bus as the lumbering vehicle got moving. Did any of what passed register on her mind, or was she rehearsing some internal hell as the unseen world passed before her eyes?
Jason had no thoughts on the matter. He took in her form, pleased that whatever was happening inside of her had not yet robbed her of youth or beauty. She was a bit disheveled, and there was a lot of evidence that her seams were slowly unraveling. Still, there was enough there to meet his baser needs.
He was not ungenerous. He would give her as much pleasure as he could manage while satisfying himself. If she proved unreceptive, there were other ways. Though by no means a deep thinker Jason had cunning.
"Going far?" he asked. She started, looked at him for a second, and then returned her gaze to the passing countryside.
"No." she said.
He let a few more miles pass before he said more. He was not a man of many words, and he was not seeking conversation. He just wanted to get her used to his voice. He wanted her to become comfortable with his presence.
"Going to see family?" he asked.
She shook her head, and continued her study of the lights and shadows outside of their little world.
"I have a driving job in Portland." Jason offered. "In a few days."
There was no response.
"You look like you might be hungry." said Jason. "I could buy you some dinner later, if you want."
She said nothing, but shifted a bit. He could tell he had touched an important point. She had not eaten for some time. He let the bait sit.
"I'm going to Salem." she finally mumbled. "I'm sick in the head. I want to go to the state hospital. They help me, sometimes."
"We could have dinner in Salem, then." said Jason. She nodded, and continued to gaze out of the window.
More miles crawled by. The bus stopped from time to time. Drop off two. Pick up three. The bus remained always less than a quarter full. Jason relaxed next to his quarry. He anticipated satisfaction, but schooled himself not to show his hand too soon.
Eventually he pulled out his wallet. He opened it with care, allowing the stack of hundred dollar bills inside to catch what little light was in the bus. He counted slowly, silently, being sure that she could see this wealth out of the corner of her eye.
He slipped out a fifty, and put the wallet back in his pocket.
"Are you needing any money?" he asked. "I can spare a little if you do."
She continued to look outside. She shook her head again.
Jason folded the bill and placed it in the breast pocket of his shirt. He settled back and closed his eyes.
"Salem." said the driver. The bus rolled slowly to a stop at the terminal. Jason stood, and waited for the young woman to stand up. Without even looking at him she stood and moved down the isle toward the exit.
Jason followed. She headed right out toward the street, and did not head toward the luggage area. Jason kept by her side. She said nothing, but did not change her pace. She tolerated his continued presence. Jason smiled.
As they approached a small diner Jason stepped ahead of her and opened the door. She went a few paces on, then stopped. Without looking at him she turned and entered. Jason guided her to a booth near the window. She sat and stared outside, just as she had on the bus.
When the waitress came by the table Jason ordered chicken fried steak and potatoes for them both. He ordered two coffees. She said nothing. She studied the street beyond the window without interest.
The food came. They ate in silence. Though she made steady work of the eating, and ate every bite, she displayed no interest in the food. Always her eyes wandered to the window and the scene outside. Never did they make contact with his.
The meal done and paid for, Jason once again held the door for her. She stepped out onto the sidewalk and paused.
"I need to get to the hospital." she said. Her voice was barely audible.
Jason said nothing. She did not move. He gently took her by the arm and guided her down a side street. She did not resist.
He found a motel and soon had them registered. The clerk paid them no mind as he handed Jason the key. She let Jason guide her to the room, and entered when he opened the door. She dropped into one of the motel room chairs and huddled there.
Jason went to the bathroom and got two plastic tumblers. With his back to the room he broke a small capsule and dumped the contents into one of the tumblers. Jason returned to his quarry, and set the tumblers on the table. Fishing a flask from one of his pockets he divided the contents between the tumblers. He pushed one toward the young woman. She took it in her hand.
Still without looking at Jason she said, "Lock the door. Pull the blinds. Please."
Jason turned from her and did so. Returning, he picked up his glass from the table and began to drink. She had already finished her drink, and was busy studying the pattern in the carpet. When her head nodded a bit Jason put down his glass and went to her.
He lifted her chin and looked into her eyes. Yes, the drug had taken affect. She was there yet not there. Clay. Putty. A toy for his pleasure.
Jason got her up and onto the bed. With a little effort he got her undressed. She was not unwilling, but would easily loose track of what they were doing and just stare off into space. Not a big change, in her case.
He took his time. He posed her and took photographs. He was careful with these, as they could serve as evidence if things ever went sour. He used a digital camera, and would soon have the photos uploaded to a safe site and deleted from the camera. It was a small camera, easily cast aside or flushed down a toilet.
When this game grew tedious he had his way with her. Physically she was all there, and responded to his touch. Her will was gone, and she would have no memory of these events. Even so Jason liked to give his victims pleasure. It enhanced his own experience, and if he were a thinking man he might deduce that it offset his guilt to some degree.
He had taken her in as many ways as he could manage before his stamina faltered. Jason then got her under the covers and snuggled in with her. He set the alarm on his telephone to awaken him long before the drugs wore off. He wanted to be far away by the time she was conscious.
Before he fell asleep Jason sensed a shift in his awareness. He was not laying next to her in the bed, but standing by her side as she sat at the table. She was fully dressed.
She asked him to close the curtains. Jason put his drink on the table and turned from her to do so. He picked up his drink when he came back, sipping slowly and watching as she finished hers. He watched for the tell-tale signs that the drug had taken affect.
An instant later he became aware of being on the bed, his hands and feet tied to the bed frame and both of his socks stuffed into his mouth. He was naked, and she was doing something out of sight. He was vaguely aware of his own thought. She had switched the drinks and turned the tables on him.
He found the situation erotic, and felt himself respond. The young woman came into view. She was unclothed, and carrying something in her hands. She glanced at his manhood and smirked. Not quite what he had hoped for, but obviously she had something interesting planned.
She put several items down on his chest. Three or four single edged razor blades, a pair of pliers and a box of course salt. As she pulled a chair up close to him Jason began to doubt the outcome of this new situation.
"Like I told you, I was on my way to the state hospital." she said in a quiet voice. "I need help. Not the kind of help you wanted to give me. Real help." She gave his manhood a disdainful look, and began to unwrap one of the razor blades.
"When I get depressed I like to cut on myself." she continued. "Just a little. To let out the pain." She made a shallow cut on the back of her left forearm. The blood welled and ran slowly down her arm. She smiled.
"Now I have you." she said. Jason began to tremble. "So much pain. In me. In you. I plan to let it all out."
Jason screamed as she leaned forward and began the first cut down the center of his chest. He could tell that she knew what she was doing. The socks in his mouth absorbed the scream admirably. It swallowed up the ones that followed, as well.
Jason felt a shift in his awareness as she opened the box of salt. He was standing by the table, drink in hand. She was sitting next to the table, fully clothed and studying the pattern in the carpet. Her drink sat, untouched, by her elbow.
He picked up her glass and took it into the bathroom. He poured both drinks down the toilet. He came out and sat in the other chair on the opposite side of the table from his intended victim.
His first call on his cell phone was to directory assistance. The second was to a taxi cab company. In less than thirty minutes the two of them were on the road. The cab driver had been hesitant to go where Jason had requested, but two of the hundred dollar bills from Jason's wallet convinced him.
She huddled against Jason in the back of the cab. Jason did not know if it was just some need of hers, or a genuine affection. He was not a deep thinker, and he just held her close to him. When they arrived he helped her out of the cab, and dismissed the driver.
The admitting attendant went through the ritual of admission. She had been there before. If her name was mentioned Jason did not catch it. He did not want to. Soon she was whisked away into the bowels of the state hospital for the mentally ill.
Jason turned to go, and then turned back. He reached into the pocket of his shirt and pulled out the fifty he had planned on leaving for her back at the motel.
"Here." he said, handing it to the attendant at the desk. "See that she gets this when she gets out."
The attendant nodded. "Want a receipt?"
Jason shook his head, and went out into the darkness. A thinking man would have pondered the experience as he walked away into the night.
Jason was not a thinking man. He just faded into the darkness. His appetites were not satisfied, but for the moment they were quiet. That was good enough for him.