He spotted a ﬁgure at the side of the road with his thumb out. It was not a good night for hitchhiking. He must have been quite desperate to get where he was going. The doctor signaled and pulled over. ‘Where are you going?’ asked the doctor.
“I’m going to my aunt Jemima’s. That’s north”. The hitchhiker climbed in. He was young and had wild red hair and a thick beard.
‘Awful night, eh?” said the doctor.
‘Yes. Yes, it is.’
They drove on in silence for a short while. The BBC radio phone-in blaring out from the car’s speakers ﬁlled in for conversation. They listened to the radio and their own thoughts as they moved on.
The doctor tapped the steering wheel nervously. The hitchhiker stared at him in his scrubs and lab coat. His own parka and t-shirt looked scruffy
The radio show carried on as they drove. The hitchhiker shifted in his seat and stared out the windscreen.
‘Is there music we could listen to? It calms me down.’
The doctor said nothing.
Suddenly there was a news bulletin on the radio.
‘We are getting reports that a patient has escaped from a nearby psychiatric institution. The man is said to be psychopathic and has a history of murder.’
The hitchhiker jabbed a finger on the button on the radio panel. Tinny pop music blurted out from the speakers. The doctor stared at his passenger, his question unasked.
‘I hate the news.’ answered the hitchhiker. ‘It’s depressing.
They drove on. The rain pounded on the car.
‘What do you do for a living?’ asked the doctor.
The hitchhiker was quiet for a moment.
‘I’m a writer.’
‘Have you had anything published?’
‘No. I’m an undiscovered artist.’
‘What are you working on?’
‘I’m writing a novel. It’s about a serial killer.’
The doctor didn’t speak. He flicked the radio station back on.
They drove on through the storm down the snaking lanes.
An hour later. The storm still raging. The hitchhiker looked out the window.
Another news bulletin came over the radio.
‘We’re getting more information on the patient. His name is Simon Hughes. He escaped earlier this evening. He is extremely dangerous and completely unpredictable. He made his escape by changing from his hospital issued uniform into a doctor’s uniform and pretending to be one of the medical staff. He stole a car and drove off.’
The hitchhiker turned to the doctor.
‘What did you say your name was?’
‘ I never said my name.’
Panicked, the hitchhiker glanced down at the doctor’s feet and noticed something he hadn’t before.
A crumpled patient’s robe, and a knife.
A bus arrives, stops, and two police officers with a very tall man wearing a blue jacket get in. The bus goes on, splashing some rare passer-by.
“So you’re telling me that we don’t know who it is, where he is, and you want me and Mark to find him? I hope you have another solution!” says one of the policeman by phone.
The man on the phone answers something. The policeman, named Matt, hangs up his phone.
Seeing the questioning look of his colleague, Matt answers to the unasked question:
“The boss just called me. We have to investigate on a serial killer, we don’t know who or where he is, and we have to stop him before tomorrow, or we are fired up. We just have his method: he kills people with a pink pen. Crazy world.”
“Bad news.” answers Mark.
There is a silence for a while. The rain makes a continuous noise.
The bus stops abruptly and the man with the blue jacket gets off. There are only a dozen of passengers left.
Matt’s phone rings and the tall policeman answers nervously.
“More information? he asks.
There’s an inaudible reply.
“Around where we are? Really? And you call this an information? Around where?… This district? Okay, call me again when you have some real information, please.”
“Did you notice?” asks Mark to his colleague.
“Notice what? That we are not in a good situation? Yes I did. That my car broke down this morning and now and I have to take the bus every morning? Yes I did. That…”
“No, interrupts Mark. This guy, with a blue jacket. The tall one, waiting for the bus. He was already in this bus ten minutes ago.”
“Nothing.” he stops for a while. “Boss is calling you again.”
Matt has another conversation with his boss.
“We have a name. Brandon Mac Levy. He has escaped the psychiatric hospital. We have a picture too.”
Mark looks at the picture for a moment. “He doesn’t seem really dangerous. He looks like a child.”
“A child who kills people is dangerous. Even with pink pens.”
Another silence. Mark looks outside. A lot of rain. The bus is going too fast by his opinion. “Not a good day”, he thinks. “The bus doesn’t stop often, nobody’s outside”.
They are listening to the radio, but they hear mostly background noise.
Suddenly, a news release captures their attention:
“….man was found dead….. don’t know his name yet…… don’t worry…..under control….for the weather, nothing special, only rain…..”
“Crazy world…” says Matt to himself.
“Boss is calling you again” answers Mark.
Matt picks up his phone grunting.
“Yes, boss, I heard this on the radio. Really?? No… Where was it? Okay. Call me later.”
And to his colleague:
“The dead man we heard on the radio was killed with a pen. A pink pen. The body was found in the bus station, around 6 am. The killer (our killer) stole a bus. That’s it.”
“Creepy.” he answers. “Pay attention, the next stop is ours.”
Then he pulls the button “stop”, but the bus continues to go. Too fast. Matt looks at the rear-view mirror and drop a muffled scream. A childish face.
It was almost a monday like the others.