Serial Killers, Survival, and Vulnerability (PTSD trigger warning)

I have known more killers than decent people. this is a thing that haunts me daily. I know what  it is to be hunted. This has dogged my thoughts for some time. I think it does every survivor. My father was a serial killer. My husband. My uncle a serial rapist. My mother complicit in the crimes of my father. My grandmother potentially was a Black Widow killing her husbands, I do not know enough of what she spoke of to be sure. She lied a lot, she was confused. She admitted a past history with drugs and being committed once for her delusions. She lied in the same manner as my father. I hated them for it. I think I still might but mostly with my family I am a numb cold space or a raw wound. There is nothing to love, except the fantasy of what I wanted them to be.

I think a lot of people have these fantasy parents. Loving them more. Loving them equally to their siblings. Not all fantasies are like mine, where the fantasy is still a demented reflection of sitcoms and mistaken love. Fantasies that contained no joy. i did not know joy yet. Yet. I think most birthdays make me retrospective. I suspect this is human nature. We have been alive a span, perhaps it comes from survival and the need to understand what we are doing right. I am very good at survival, which is why I am now thirty.

The predators in my life have not all been flesh and blood. I once drew the attention of a serial killer who mistook me for prey. He sat down on a park bench beside me and my friend, I lied about our names out of instinct. I thought something was wrong. He scared me. For a long time my escape was attributed by myself and those that I knew to being psychic. I am not psychic. I am astute, despite brain damage my brain functions at ahigh capacity. I have an eidetic memory, which despite how TV shows is not all that perfect. I am smart. I also am experienced with monsters. At this time my experiences with peace were limited, though I had not yet fully trespassed into darkness. I do not know what I read in him that told me he was hunting but I knew. So we ran for our lives.

Our run was not clean. The way out was not truly running alone. It required we swim through sewage. It required that we ruin our winter coats consigning me to a cold winter. It required the revelation we disobeyed our parents. She was more terrified of that at first, until she noticed I was not wrong and the hunter followed his prey. I will never forget the white truck, the partial liscence plate remains though I no longer can transcribe the numbers. His smell. HIs breath. It is etched into my memory. My friend and I looked alike. Pale, big eyes, matches for his victims though younger. The youngest of his hunted that they know of. He knew our names, despite my lying. I introduced her as Gabrielle and myself as Barbara. Something trite, Silly. Instinct. Lie. My brain screamed it so I did without hesitation and without the usual queasiness that I associate with lies. The irony of my preference for writing fiction, explained easily with that being a story and no one being required to believe it, with that sickness with a lie does not escape me. I think that this is also why I write about what has transpired in my life, what I think as a result and study myself in order to understand a way to cope. It has gone beyond that many times. My need to think it through and comprehend has turned out to reflect in other survivors. Now I bond with people. Now I know that this is strength. Just as that day without the ability to swim I found it.

We ran. Fast. I dislocated my hip running, it never was the same. The first pelvic dislocation. I did not let it stop me, it hurt. We ran past the police station because I was primal. I wasn ot thought. I was simply a gazelle surviving. My friend did not think. She was too frightened that he was driving after us, chasing us in a car. This is why I went thee route I did. His vehicle in that small town was not known to me. This is the only part of small towns I like. Strange vehicles are known. This exists where I live now too, it is such a closed off area. Small towns and the War Zone, the ghetto, the gang area. Whatever you call it. Isolation exists here just as there. There is less crime here. I find that ironic. So we ran. One of our friends, more hers than mine as was true of them all I was simply the smart kid they let help them with homework in exchange for friendship or other things along that line, was the daughter of the chief of police. I knew her house was safe. I had run there before when afraid. Her father believed me. He was the first authority figure to believe me on bad things. I was raped by a schoolmate, emulating his father. I showered, which was what my mother taught me to do. So proof was lost. I assaulted that boy, I took bloody vengeance. I never have regretted that. No charges were pressed, even after I ended up stabbing the kid with a fork in the cafeteria. He believed me. He told me he did. Realizing how pivitol not being believed is, that is why this is in my head. That stabbing was weeks before this occured so I knew it was safe and I ran. He would have caught us if not for the location of the police station and his house. He was very close before he saw the sign.

It was raining. It was august. The man knew my birthday. He told me he knew. Just as he knew my name. He knew my address. I am lucky in that home never felt safe. I did not feel safe in a home until where I am now. Safe was so foreign that I did not even know how to define what I felt with that primal knowledge where to go. If home had felt safe or my friend’s home had felt safe, which it did not due to her abusers, who forbade our contact because I knew with them too. I told them so. I did this to protect myself during a sleepover, other abusers I kept silent on. I see them in many places. This too is for survival. If you can identify the predators they cannot hunt you. I woke up with her mother’s live in boyfriend looming over me, so I hurt him and showed him my power. I was just big enough. He limps still, I dislocated his knee cap. Though that one may be dead from his drug use, I damaged him permanently and he feared me. It was the weapon I knew how to use. A “gift”. The man hunting us that day was one I knew I could not take.

We made it to the house. She was too afraid to even speak. I told my friend who was home alone to call her dad. Not nine one one. She did. I told them everything, down to his partial plate number. They found his truck. It was a work truck for a farm he had found a job at. Just passing through. I gave them a description. They brought in photos. I pointed him out. They never found him. He found himself. I do not remember if it was months or weeks but the next time I saw his face was when he was on the news. He lived in Mexico. He hunted in the US up and down railway lines both active and defunct. He trailed right through and we were the fit for what he hunted. He knew more about me than he did her. I was his prey. I was vulnerable at that time, exceptionally so. Predators prey on vulnerability. There is nothing a person can do about being vulnerable to a point. There are small things you can do to offset that but there is no “cure” for it. This is why I know escrima, carry a taser, used to carry pepperspray before it became too much for me to handle, and do not go out alone. Self defense courses are vital. Doing things to feel confident is vital. Yet truly vulnerable people cannot stop being that. A part of me will always be vulnerable. I have accepted this. I am now accepting that it is okay for me to have escaped things like this, I have felt guilty for a long time about those who did not. I used to dream about this man’s other victims. I have not thought about him in a very long time. I cannot quantify the time.

I have survived. I did tell my mother that the man on the TV was the man who hunted me and my friend. We never went to trial to speak. I am not listed in his wikipedia page. I checked. I do not know if I am a known quantifier there. For that I am relieved. This man crossed countries to kill. I survived him. Perhaps I am not the only one after all. He is dead. He has been since 2006. I did not know that until tonight either. I do remember talking to the FBI. I do remember this being recorded. I do not know if they had mercy upon me or understood that stress could break me.

Soon I will begin writing a fictional story. I am ready. My body not so much but my mind has begun to spin a tale. It is dark. Just as my life has been. You write what you know. I know survival.

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