• Martin Holden

Chapter 1 - Strange and Complicated

Kris Kelley was a very strange and complicated young man.

To the people he worked with he was seen as extremely strange and extremely complicated. But what they didn’t know was that behind the strangeness and complicated persona, there was a very dangerous young man.

To anyone who didn’t know him, and that would be most of the people he ever came into contact with, he was quite unremarkable, an incredibly quiet and average person. He was always the awkward one in a group, the one most difficult to talk to, the one you didn’t really want to get to know.

The fact that no-one cared to know more about him was one of the things that hurt the most. All his life he was the one overlooked, from the playground days when he was one of the last to be picked for the football team, right up to now when his colleagues hardly ever bothered to even engage in conversation with him. He was just given jobs and problems to solve and he just got on with it.

Don’t be fooled though, Kris was an incredibly intelligent individual, very methodical and analytic, he studied things intently, he liked to understand every angle and he liked to feel that he controlled it. He never wanted to feel like he was backed into a corner, for Kris, control was everything.

Kris worked in the same firm as Zoe, based in the modern offices in Manchester. He worked in the specialist project team, not connected directly with the main team, but called in every so often for an acute piece of problem-solving.

He was a loner and quite intense in everything he did. He was the quiet man in the corner, the one who got on with his job, the one that no-one knew much about. To the outside world he looked like the archetypal IT geek, with long, often unkempt blond hair and clothes that any 1980’s geography teacher would have been proud of. Brown corduroy trousers and a light blue, almost denim type shirt completed his office wear.

On top of that in the wintertime to guard against the cold, his heavy duffle type coat completed the image. For most of his adult life, he had been on his own. That was no real surprise to anyone, he just was not able to form any kind of meaningful friendship with anyone, whether that was male or female. Throughout his life, Kris had struggled with relationships and with the normal things in society. He just did not fit in, he was always the square peg in a round hole. He had now accepted that role, he had grown more and more in his shell, into his secret world.

His childhood was hard. He was a clever boy but had major issues of behavior and that caused him lots of strife at school, both with teachers and pupils around him. “Oi, weirdo, kick our ball back” the other kids would say in the playground and he was always the first point of any jokes that the cruel kids would make.

His usual reaction to this was to lash out, not in a direct way to the bullies, but in a disruptive way in the class. He hated being told what to do, and he would often ignore teachers and generally cause problems in the class. When he was thrown into detention, he would scheme and plan revenge attacks on the bullies, but they always remained just that - schemes and plans, he never had the physical attributes or confidence to carry them out and that only strengthened the bullies attacks against him.

The incidents throughout his childhood had led him to lead a reclusive and obsessive life, no one knew the dark secrets he kept buried deep in his head. All those fantasies, all those hours spent watching people, the few photographs he had dared to take, those were the foundations of his relationships, not with people, but with his ideas and his little world.

Kris had grown up in a small village to the north of Manchester in the shadow of the Pennine hills, where the city starts to fade into the rural farming lands of the lower moorland. It was a close community where everyone seemed to know each other’s business, but despite all that Kris remained unknown to most.

He had lived with his parents until he went to Sheffield University to study forensic computer science, he would become one of the best in his field, but all this came at a cost. The long hours, his compulsive approach led to a search for perfection and he became more and more immersed in the world of screens and motherboards.

Interactions with people in the real world were often short and uncomfortable. Kris had lived a secret life, one kept away from his family and from the authorities, he was a well-planned and dangerous predator and a clever one at that.

His lack of human empathy had driven his mind into the world of fantasy. He often sat there in some café in Manchester watching people walk by. His eye was always drawn to the ladies in the smart suits or towards the short skirts, to him they were potential targets.

Occasionally he finished his drink as they walked by and then got up and followed them. It was easy for him, just put the coffee cup down and strolled behind, always with his head down looking in shop windows.

He noticed how they never spotted him or realized that they were being tracked, he could blend into street life so easily. He loved to follow them for as long as he could, always staying that safe distance away, never daring to get close or to speak with them.

For now, they were his training modules.

He got to know the city on these walks, he paid attention to the places he could potentially use for cover, working out if there was CCTV coverage and imagining what those places would be like at night.

For months he fantasized about these women, for months he schemed and planned his idea, all he needed now was some final planning and of course, a victim.

Zoe was very much part of that planning.

She didn’t know that, no one knew that, but she was the complete focus of Kris right now ...

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