He smiled. What was so fascinating about serial killers? Had it shifted through the years, or was it still the sensationalism? Was it still the lust for an insight into the mind of Saucy Jack? Was it the baser instinct they often talked of? The notion that civilization was a sheen that was barely coating the meat of savagery that really dwelled in the heart of most?
For him he spent a lot of time meeting them and taking them apart, so that he might be better able to think like them and be able to construct a notion of how one might approach his work, so he could catch them quicker.
This man opposite him was interesting, because he had only been caught because of a mistake he made, not because they had been able to discern any pattern in the kills that had been attributed to him.
‘What are you expecting, Bates? That the solitude will have loosened me up so much that I am willing to speak to anyone?’
‘Maybe, Ritter, maybe. There are plenty of books coming out with plenty of theories on you and what the crime scenes all mine.’
‘Ah, and you think that I need to set the story straight?’
‘You couldn’t be more wrong.’
‘Why would I want to stop my fun by doing anything so stupid as being forthcoming?’
‘Your fun? What do you mean, continuing?’
‘I evolved my friend. Serial killing is a very personal thing, and obviously I couldn’t develop it any further while incarcerated. But there are other ways to have an effect – all those young impressionable minds looking for something to occupy them. I went viral, Bates – I infected thousands with my way of thinking.’
‘OK, why would you tell me this, when you know I can investigate you and shut it all down?’
‘Ah, but how am I doing it, that’s the question, isn’t it?’
Bates spent how much longer there? An hour or two? He told them to increase the security and surveillance on Ritter, and they did so for the next few months. What did they see? Nothing. No rhyme nor reason to anything he did, and no patterns they could see in him. What did they see in the world? Killing with no rhyme nor reason. Did it mean what Ritter might claim it meant, or was it all some elaborate bluff?
Bates was angry. Ritter seemed to have shut down. What could connect with this killer? Bates even wondered if the mistake that got him caught might have been intentional.
Ritter was happy. He had played cat and mouse with many people he had not killed, but to think that he had not killed something in Bates? Bates – one of the biggest enemies of their kind. Bates, who could no longer think like a killer to catch a killer, because he was tied up in knots trying to understand how he had been drawn into a huge mystery created by Ritter. Ritter was great at observing fixed patterns of behaviour in others, and some kind of autopilot in himself negated his own tendency. A man without pattern had shaped the chaos that now spiralled out through Bates and anyone else that he had touched.