The hook descended; a smooth movement that brought it down below the level of his chin, then upward in a single arc. Its tip pierced the skin in the soft place above his Adam’s apple. It emerged inside his mouth after driving through his tongue. It continued its ascent, through palate, through sinus. Every bone barrier gave-way with a dull cracking thud. Finally, through to the brain, the tip coming to rest somewhere behind his left eye. His chin now rested in the curve of this tool. A long iron bar passed in front of his face until it ended in a wide loop above the top of his head. A leather gloved hand held the hook.

There had been a grunt of pleasure as the hook found its home deep in the man’s head. Now another sound of effort as the body rose upwards, lifted by strong arms. The loop at the end of the hook slotted onto a large iron nail driven deep into the brick of the wall. There the body hung. The head held high as if in supplication to the heavens, the rest of the body limp and puppet-like. Shoulders arched forwards causing the arms to turn inwards. The backs of the hands touched as they came to rest over the crotch. The legs fell in a similar fashion, the soles of the bare feet held well above a naked wooden floor.

The gloved man stood back now to survey this latest addition to the walls. Three other hooks held similar trophies. The first of these was now in such a state that what remained of her flesh hung in tatters. The rest of the once pearlescent skin was black and shiny-looking. The face was almost unrecognisable. It was, as were all the others, held facing the ceiling by the hook fixing it to the wall. The bruise-like flesh stretched over skeletal cheekbones. It was all framed by long blond curly hair.

She had been his first-born. This first link in the chain had been impulse on his part. A bold lass who had been walking through the park as the sun was setting. She had been easy to snatch. A quick punch in the face and she had been half unconscious, unable to fight back, unable to protest. He had her in the boot of his car within minutes, and on his wall within the hour. The first of his collection. The hook had slid into her head oh so easily, the sublime rapture of his deed taking him off to other worlds.

And then the divine nature of his gifts was made clear. Even as the blood of his first-born was still congealing in a pool beneath her feet he was craving for more. He knew that each addition to the family would send him further heavenwards, not to join God but to be him. And his path would be revealed. He went outside to clean out his car. As he went to retrieve the woman’s bag from the boot, her phone began to ring.

On a whim, he searched it out, and answered it.

“Hello?” The excitement within him like a fist around his heart.

“Hello, can I speak to Miriam Dennis please?” He felt a small jolt of shock at hearing the name of the one he had killed, but then he composed himself.

“Oh, I’m sorry, Miriam’s not at home right now. This is her husband. Can I take a message?”

“OK, thanks. Can you tell her that James Gillis from Peabody Insurance called? It’s about her car insurance renewal.”

It was as easy as that, the next member of his family picked, by fate or by a higher purpose. James Gillis had been easy to track down, though in a town some miles outside of the city. It was easy to arrange a lunchtime meeting with the man on the pretence of needing life insurance. He was soon in the passenger seat of the car.

On their way to a friendly country pub where they could discuss business.

Why don’t I drive, then you can drink.

It was easy to catch his passenger unawares. On a deserted road, using a torch. He slammed it into the side of James’ head until he fell unconscious. Family member number two had slid onto his hook with a frightening ease. He was more sure then ever he was on the right path. He knew that the next sibling would reveal themselves soon.

Gillis had no mobile phone with him when he was taken. This time the name came from a letter in the inside pocket of his jacket.

Dear Mr. Gillis, it said, I would be grateful if you would consider my application for the post of secretary recently advertised.

Her name was Karen McNally, and her address was on the right-hand side at the top of the letter.

By coincidence, she only lived ten minutes drive from his walls and his hooks. He was at the front door of her building within days, late in the evening, brazen and full of divine direction. He pressed a different doorbell than his prey’s and lent towards the intercom. In moments a gruff voice asked, “Yes?”

“I’m sorry, I live downstairs and I’ve locked myself out. Could you let me in please?”

There was an electronic buzz as the latch on the front door released. He stalked in, placing a piece of tape over the locking mechanism to prevent clicking shut. He may need to make a quick exit, so it wouldn’t do to be fiddling around with door handles.

Her apartment was on the ground floor. He knocked on the door, just a concerned neighbour coming to call about some-such or what-not. Even though there was a spy-hole in the door she had opened it without even putting on a security chain. He had slammed his hand upwards against her chin. Her teeth crunched together and she keeled over backwards. He had a heart-stopping moment when he realised he had no idea if anyone else was in the flat. He froze for seconds before he roused himself into motion. He lifted the woman’s unconscious frame from underneath the shoulders and hauled it out into the hall. He paused to close the door on the latch, so as not to make the scene too suspicious, then was away.

Karen McNally awoke from her slumber minutes before she was mounted on the wall. Her eyes had opened wide in terror and a weak whimper had sounded from behind her taped mouth. She saw the bricks in front of her moving downwards as she was lifted high. Then, there was the hook in the wall, and its tip pressing almost sensually into the skin of her upper neck. Then she was falling… then nothing.

He had waited days for the next sign. He had snatched Karen from her flat; she had no phone or belongings of any kind with her. He began to despair of his calling, actually began doubt the path to his glorious ascension.

And then, when hope was all but gone, he had been out driving to the supermarket. A middle-aged man was stapling signs to lamp-posts. They had the word MISSING in large red letters and the photo on them was of a smiling woman that now had her face to his wall. The Universe had spoken. He had followed the man as he drove around the area putting up one sign after another. He didn’t notice the anguish on the old face. He didn’t see the tired way the man walked from his small car to the lamp-post or fence he was heading for. It was easy to wait until the destination was down a cul-de-sac; the one car trapping the other from escape. He was knocked out and bundled into the boot within seconds. Soon he would be sinking into place next to his daughter (for surely this was her father).

They were all there now; his family on the wall. The slow drip of fluid from someone’s dangling foot punctuated the silence, and he knew that he had finished. He also knew that the next name he would hear would be his own.


It was a summons from the front door. The sound rang through the house as he was stepping up on the stool in front of the wall.


The hook hung from its iron nail in front of his eyes. He looked at the tip, ready to send him to his destiny. He lifted his chin and felt it resting there, tenderly kissing his skin.

BANG BANG BANG! “George Steven Baines! This is the police!”

He kicked the stool away, and the hook had him.

He was free.