The Gods of the Odds
The serial killer was undetected and unsuspected because he always carefully kept the odds on his side
As a serial killer, Royston Bains was very successful. A quiet little man barely five feet tall, Bains was, he believed, a genius. However, he was a person who went through life largely ignored by his fellow man. At forty-five, he was beginning to run to seed. His fellow man ignored him, women didn’t even see him. His desire to kill, to gain revenge on a world that failed to recognise his genius was all consuming.
Bains carefully studied the routine of one Kayden Norris. He knew he hung around the Chorlton Street bus station until around ten p.m. then cruised Canal Street’s gay village, taking clients for a short walk down the dark canal towpath.
Bains accosted Norris on the towpath away from security cameras. He gave him twenty pounds telling him to walk down the towpath and meet him at his car in a nearby side street. ‘Meet me there and there’ll be another thirty for you.’
Kayden smiled knowingly ‘married are you, pal? Scared you’ll be seen with me?’
‘Do you want the business or not?’
‘Yeah, yeah, mate, OK. I’ll see you there in five minutes.’
Bains knew the CCTV camera covering the side street wasn’t working because he’d hacked the system and switched it off. His car was a ten-year-old Peugeot estate now sporting the number plates of a similar vehicle. The route to the murder spot had been carefully chosen. The rest had been child’s play.
In his fifteen-year career of slaughter, Bains had never even been a suspect. This underlined what he already knew, that he was a true genius. He worked out the chances of being caught before each kill. He kept the gods of the odds firmly on his side. The police needed evidence. He gave them none.
The unsuspecting Kayden Norris followed Bains into the bushes on the wasteland to perform the sex act that he’d been paid for. The boy knelt as Bains fiddled with his fly.
The lad looked up, his handsome face creased ‘God, mate, first you don’t want to do it in your nice warm car, now you can’t even open your fly ‘Here, let me do it’ he said pulling down the zip with ease. ‘No need to be nervous mate, I’m an expert’ he looked down, leaning forward to deliver his service.
Bains struck then. He slid the cutthroat razor from his pocket and, placing one hand firmly on the boy’s head, he slipped the razor under his chin and slashed his throat with one lightning, vicious stroke.
The boy fell back, his bulging eyes staring up at his killer, both hands clutching at the wound, his mouth screamed soundlessly as his lifeblood gushed from between his fingers. His last blurred vision was of his killer’s calm, smiling face.
‘For what it’s worth, filth, you’re my eighteenth.’ He bent and retrieved his money. As he stood for a moment looking down at his latest victim, Bains felt cheated. It had been just too easy, he’d not derived his usual satisfaction. Perhaps he needed a bigger challenge.
Bains saw the news reports on the death of Kayden Norris. Police put the savage murder down to a revenge killing because Kayden had owed money to several drug dealers. His red-eyed mother made the usual T.V. appeal extolling her late son’s saintly virtues then the whole affair sank into the obscurity of unsolved crime.
‘I’m off to the computer club mummy’ he called from the front door
‘Must you go and leave me all alone Royston? His disabled mother whined.
‘It’s Friday mummy, you know it’s Friday.’
She didn’t answer, just sulked, he never missed his Friday nights out.
Bains always put an extra sleeping pill in her cocoa before he went out, she’d be fast asleep in five minutes.
Talking computing, hacking techniques and other techy stuff to his two geeky friends Pete and Dave made his week. Working in I.T security for a large insurance company paid well but bored him. His everyday interest was hacking, his hobby murder. At work, he was regarded as a good, reliable worker albeit a bit of a loner.
Bains had laid the foundations of his next murder six months previously. He had joined a dating website and had met with several women. All his dates had ended in disappointment due to his introverted personality and, he thought, his lack of height. Girls, he believed, despised short men. One girl, the selected girl was one Sally Oldfield. She was vain and had an appetite for expensive foreign holidays, meals in top restaurants and endless flattery.
Reading her online profile, it was easy to ascertain her tastes. Her many photos showed off her fine figure to perfection, her face, though beautiful, looked haughty.
His online profile was that of a successful thirty-something businessman who ran an IT company. He described himself as ‘solvent’ and a lover of the finer things in life. In his one profile picture, taken years earlier, he was wearing a business suit. against a neutral background. His carefully constructed blurb exuded prosperity without any vulgar boasting.
They met at an up-market restaurant in Alderley Edge, a haunt of celebrities and football stars. With champagne, the bill came to a small fortune, but Royston Bains didn’t flinch. He readily proffered his credit card and left a generous cash tip, too.
Sally was impressed. OK, so he was quiet, a short arse and looked out of place walking beside her. She stood five-foot-ten in her heels. No matter, he obviously had money and was prepared to spend it. He could be the means she needed to open her dreamed of a beauty salon.
Bains drove her home afterwards in a brand-new series five BMW he had hired for the occasion. He did not push her to let him come in for coffee.
Another date followed to much the same pattern this time ending with passionate kissing and a grope, but she allowed nothing more. Sally knew how to play men,
Bains didn’t make another date telling Sally he was away on business for a month and would contact her on his return. He didn’t, and he left the dating site.
Sally put it down to experience and got on with her life.
‘Hi, Sally, remember me? Royston?
‘Yeah, hey, where have you been? Why didn’t you call me? Why did you leave the site?’
He was silent for a couple of seconds when he spoke again his voice was sombre. ‘I’m afraid my mother died’ he lied ‘I’ve been feeling a bit down since then. We were very close you know.’
Sally apologized as people do in these situations even though they have nothing to apologise for. He let her ramble on about condolences for a moment listening carefully for any hint of disbelief in her voice. There was none.
‘Listen, Sally, the reason I rang you tonight is to see if you’d be up for a holiday in Dubai next month?’ He heard her catch her breath. ‘I was thinking about a suite at that Burj Al Arab whatsit hotel, you know the one?
‘Wow, yes, I’ll say’ she responded eagerly but doesn’t that place charge an absolute fortune?’
His voice was serious ‘that won’t be a problem Sally you see I have had a bit of luck. You are the first and only person I’ve told, and I want it kept strictly secret, you understand?’
‘Er, I think so Royston, tell me more’ her excitement was growing now, and she felt a tingle run up and down her spine.
‘OK, Sally, but you mustn’t tell a single soul, the last thing I need is publicity and begging letters, people knocking on my door, that sort of thing.’ He paused allowing her to put two and two together.
Her voice sounded uncertain but with an unmistakable note of excitement ‘are we talking about a lottery win or something, Royston?’
‘Are you alone?’ he asked and when she said she was he said, ‘It’s not a huge win by lottery standards, just two point six million, but I don’t want it bandied about, not even to your closest friends, OK?’
‘Oh, I won’t tell anyone Royston’ she gushed ‘I promise’ a heartbeat then she added ‘honestly.’
The addition of the word ‘honestly’ told him as soon as he was off the phone she’d confide, in strictest confidence, of course, in her favourite girlfriend, thus ensuring the world and his wife would know by next day. This he expected, and he knew how to prevent it.
His voice went brittle ‘listen, Sally’ he snapped, I’m deadly serious here. If I see one word on social media, hear one piece of stray gossip then the whole damned thing is off, you understand? There’ll be no going back, and you’ll never hear from me again.’
She took a sharp intake of breath as she rapidly reassessed the situation. Maybe he wasn’t such a mug after all. ’OK, Royston, but I’ll have to tell them sometime, won’t I?’
‘You can tell them about the holiday, but only after it’s all booked and finalised, right? The win stays secret.’
‘OK, I promise Royston and I mean it.’ she sounded sincere ‘what’s the next step?’
‘I’ll bring some brochures over tomorrow night, Sally. I have a business meeting in Crewe, a long-term commitment. The guy’s a friend as well as a client. I can’t just let him down. I’ll phone you when I’ve finished. I’ll book that nice restaurant again, OK?’
Sally readily agreed and went to bed that night feeling thrilled. She longed to tell her mother, but she knew her mother couldn’t keep a secret to save her life and would tell her sister. Auntie Belle was an avid user of social media and a bigger gossip than even her mum. No, she’d wait until tomorrow and, with luck, secure her future.
When Sally received a call from a strange number next day she hesitated before answering.
‘Hi Sally, it’s me, Royston. Look, something’s come up. I’ll be delayed an hour, sorry. I rang you on my business phone because I forgot my personal one, dammit. God, I’ve had a helluva day’ he moaned, ‘nothing’s gone to plan. The BMW broke down, some bloody electrical gizmo they have to order, and the only car they could loan me is an old Peugeot, I’m up to my ears, but I’ll see you soon and we’ll relax and forget this sodding nonsense, OK?’
‘What about the restaurant, Royston?’
‘No problem. I rang them. They were very good about it, but I want to show you these brochures first and decide what suite we’re having. It wouldn’t be right to do that in the restaurant. It would look a bit flash like we were a couple of wanna be’s trying to impress or something.’ He gave her the location of a walkers’ carpark near the Edge.
‘It’s a bit remote, isn’t it? she objected.
‘Remote? Don’t be silly, it’s on my way’ he said impatiently ‘last time I was there it was packed with dog walkers.’ He snorted ‘look, I’m wrapping up this damned business now, I’ll be there in twenty minutes, OK?’ He hung up without waiting for an answer, pleased with his performance. He’d played the harassed businessman to a tee.
Sally arrived on time and he watched as her red Mini circled the empty carpark until her headlights picked his Peugeot.
He waved the glossy brochure through the window, beaming her a huge smile. She waved back, hurrying to climb in. The ligature was hidden behind the brochure.
After stuffing her body into the boot of her Mini, Bains started on his pre-planned route down remote camera-free country lanes All had gone perfectly, she had suspected nothing right up until the moment he drew the sash cord around her slender neck and jerked it tight. Her look of horrified shock delighted him, her fierce struggle, legs kicking, fingers clutching desperately, uselessly at the rope as he slowly choked the life from her. It gave him an erection.
Preoccupied with reliving the murder he made a wrong turn in the hard to follow back lanes. He was heading south not north. He cursed himself inwardly. He’d never bought a Satnav; a genius doesn’t make mistakes.
He reached the motorway at Holmes Chapel putting miles on his journey and turned north.
He’d been on the motorway for ten minutes when the Peugeot started spluttering. The engine died then picked up again, but his speed was reduced.
Knutsford service station was coming up and he sighed with relief as the car staggered into the first available space just inside the parking area before conking out altogether. Only one other car was near, far away from the brightly lit centre.
He sat there cursing that he wasn’t a member of a recovery service. He’d thrown away the cheap phone he’d bought for the murder after removing the sim card and burying it in a layby. His own phone was at home, part of any potential alibi he may need. He was stuck. If he went into the service station to use a public phone, then he’d be on camera.
He looked gloomily under the bonnet, his brain working frantically, a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach replacing his earlier euphoria. He had to get home before his mother awoke otherwise she’d know he’d been out.
‘Are you having trouble’?
Bains turned to see a very unusual person approaching the other car. In the dim light, he couldn’t decide if the person was a boyish-looking girl or a girlish looking boy.
‘Oh, yes, this damned wreck has broken down and I’m not a member of a recovery service.’
‘Where are you going?’
‘Me, too, hop in, I’ll give you a lift if you like.’
‘Are you sure? I mean, you’re on your own and you don’t know me from Adam.’
The person smiled reassuringly, even at close range he still couldn’t determine the sex. The voice was light and neutral.
This was a godsend. He could slide into a car no one would associate him with and get out of his predicament. He could report his car stolen in the morning. The gods of the odds were with him.
‘That’s very generous of you’ he said, ‘very kind indeed.’ As he slid into the passenger seat he decided his benefactor was a woman. ‘May I ask your name’?
‘I’m Kim, Kim Jones ‘she said and in case you’re wondering, which I know you are, I was born into a woman’s body, but now I’m in transition. Does that bother you?’ The arched eyebrow told him it had better not.
‘No, not at all, Kim. I’m Richard Mason by the way. She shook his hand her grip firm. They drove off.
‘What do you do Richard?’ she queried, her voice friendly.
‘I’m a writer’ he lied for an in-house computer company magazine, awfully boring I’m afraid.’
She smiled, ‘I ‘m a rep for a wholesale sex toy company would you believe?’ She laughed and went on to chat about her job telling him amusing anecdotes of cheeky executives asking for a demonstration.
It was as she chatted he thought what about two killings in a single night? She’s such an easy target and no one knew he was with her. He tried to dismiss the idea, he’d done no research or planning. But she was a potential witness, she could place him at Knutsford. This gnawed at his brain like a rabid rat. It could be done his inner voice said, the gods of the odds are with you, just get her to pull over on the pretext of wanting a pee. A quick chop to her throat would disable her then he could use her underwear to finish the job. The thought excited him and his loins stirred. Two killings in one day? Wow! He’d wanted a challenge, now he had one.
‘Do you often give lifts to total strangers?’ He asked as they passed through the southernmost outskirts of the city, ‘I mean, I might be a serial killer for all you know.’
She laughed heartily at this, glancing sideways at him. He could see by the dashboard light that she had an amused twinkle in her eye.
‘Oh, I don’t think so Richard’ she said merrily, ‘you don’t look the type that’s why I gave you a lift. You looked so small, lost and vulnerable standing by your car, I simply had to help you.’
Bains didn’t answer, his anger rising. Small? Vulnerable? The patronising bitch. Yes, he would kill this woman, this stupid woman who was too damned dumb to know when she was in danger. They were deeper in the outskirts now, an area he knew well.
‘I’m sorry Kim but I need to pee quite badly, there’s a small industrial estate just along here, it’ll be deserted now. Do you mind if we pull in?’ He drew his knees up like a man desperate for the lavatory. He thought she looked hesitant. He screwed his face up ‘I’m afraid I have a medical condition Kim, and when I need to go I have to go.’
She nodded her understanding and turned into the rundown estate, stopping by a rubbish-filled skip. It was dark and gloomy, a single lamp at the entrance cast long shadows.
Inside Bains was seething, how dare this creature treat him with such disdain? He turned to her. ‘I really am a serial killer you know, I was on my way back from killing a woman in Alderley Edge when I broke down. She was my nineteenth victim.’ He stared at her his face like granite, eyes like flint. Kim laughed in his face.
‘Why don’t you bloody well believe me, you stupid bitch?’ he screamed.
Kim smiled benignly at him her face looking placid, radiant even ‘are you good at maths Richard?’ Before he could answer she said, ‘what are the odds of two serial killers meeting by chance and sharing a car do you suppose?’
He heard the sharp click as the knife flicked opened and locked. He saw the flash of steel and felt death pierce his chest.
She leaned across him and opened the door ‘bloody fantasist’ she said. She twisted the knife then withdrew it watching his final facial contortions. She pushed him out ‘you’re my twenty-first by the way.’
She drove off laughing crazily, two untraceable murders in a single night. Wow, she thought, what were the odds of achieving that?
She would burn the stolen car in Wythenshawe park along with its dead owner the boot. She’d then take the bus home where her favourite sex toy awaited. Kim’s loins throbbed in anticipation.
She was in a state of euphoric ecstasy. Two victims in the same day! Wow! Unbelievably good luck She was still laughing maniacally when she drove through the red light into the path of the tram that killed her instantly.
The gods of the odds, it seems, are fickle.