This eight-chapter novella is the second of two stories set in between the periods of Stranger Things: The College Years and Stranger Things: The New Generation. I advise reading those stories, as well as the third in that trilogy, Stranger Things: World’s End, before reading The Witch of Yamhill County and then this one, which are supplementary and do not involve the Upside Down. Like the Upside Down trilogy, they are works of fan fiction based on the Stranger Things TV series. I do not profit from these stories and they are not canon. There is plenty of Stranger Things fiction to be found online (see here), but if I learn that the Duffer Brothers do not appreciate fan fiction of their work, or if they order a cease-and-desist, I will gladly pull the stories down.
The Black Rose of Newberg — Chapter One
The Torn Patient
Wednesday, October 8, 1997
When Jim Hopper heard the knock on his door, he cursed out loud. Jane wasn’t supposed to be here for another hour, and he was just out of the shower. It was probably that gasbag Henry who had no friends. Hopper had made the mistake of having his next-door neighbor over for lunch last year, and Henry hadn’t left him alone since. He had no time for the fart today. Women were being killed, and Hopper was doing something about it, jurisdiction be damned.
He yanked open the front door. It was Jane after all.
“Sorry I’m early,” she said. “I came straight down after dropping off Mike.”
“It’s okay,” he said, surprised, letting her in. It wasn’t even seven yet, but the earlier the better. “Just let me get a shirt on.” He hated his beer gut showing. “You’ve had breakfast?” Of course she had. With Mike.
“Yes,” she said. “I’m fine.”
“How is the little tyke?”
“More like his father every day.”
“He’s with Raquel?” Lucas and Raquel Sinclair were in danger of adopting Mike Hopper.
She nodded. “Lucas got in a hide-and-seek before he left for work.”
“Well, make yourself at home. There’s coffee in the kitchen.” Making herself at home would be easy. This house had been her home. Twice. First when they had moved out to Oregon, shortly after Mike Wheeler died. And then years later, after he died again. Hopper was fiercely proud of Jane. She had suffered and survived more than anyone he knew, including his army buddies. Her own arm had been torn off and eaten in front of her. If not for a certain apple, she’d still be armless.
In his bedroom, he threw on a shirt, steeling himself for what he had to ask her. He wished she still lived here. Mike Junior had spent his first two years in this house, and that period — from the spring of ’94 to the spring of ’96 — had made Hopper glad to be alive again. Mike Junior loved him, with the same unrestrained fervency that Mike Senior had loathed him. It was surreal: the father and son were near physical clones.
Jane had done well on her own; he had to give her that. He had bought a house for her in Southeast Portland, where she lived close to her friend Nicki Racine. Only three months ago the Sinclairs had moved out to Portland, and they lived on the west side, in the same apartment complex she and Mike Wheeler had occupied in the early ’90s. The Racine-Sinclair support network was superior to a chain-smoking father and his windbag neighbors. Jane had torn him a new one over his smoking; said things she didn’t mean — or meant too well. And the rift was still open, despite their amends.
He cursed that rift as he combed his hair. He wanted a cigarette right now, badly, but he wasn’t going to light up with Jane here. She’d be on his ass, and maybe even refuse his request. He grabbed the envelope sitting on his desk, and went out into the living room where she was sitting by the coffee table. He saw her “not noticing” the ashtray on the table, overflowing with cigarette butts. “Not noticing”, from Jane, was more offensive than a frontal attack. The wall of her face said everything. This would be awkward. He had no other outs.
He had never asked Jane for help like this before; certainly never with police business. Her rescue operation five years ago was something she had taken upon herself. Thanks to that initiative, he was alive, and the towns of Bellevue and Amity were liberated from a terror that would have gone on indefinitely. It was missing kids back then. Hopper had found every one of those kids — or what was left of them — stripped to the bone in a hell’s kitchen. They had been cannibalized for midnight suppers. Kids not even ten.
Now it was women in their twenties, and the demon was Black Rose. Women raped and butchered, then discarded like trash. In Newberg, of all places; Hopper’s home town. Where, ironically, he had minimal jurisdiction as the county sheriff. Newberg had its own police. Those finest had been putting in tons of overtime, with nothing to show for it. Black Rose remained elusive. He was killing women who were a lot like Jane.
Those victims flashed through Hopper’s mind: On Wednesday morning, September 10, the body of athletic trainer Stacey Carrier was found in a dumpster on Fulton Street, not far from the fitness center where she worked. She had been raped and savaged the night before. Stuffed inside her mouth was the calling card of a plastic black rose. The police had named the killer Black Rose on the spot. Next Wednesday, September 17, the mutilated corpse of librarian Fiona Ray was found in the trash on School Street, just around the corner from the public library. She too had been violated the night before. A black rose was clipped to her tongue, which had been severed from her mouth and wedged up her anus. On Friday, September 26, it was the artist Evelyn Brody: raped, hacked, and slashed like the other two, and found on Grant Street, two blocks away from her art studio. Another black rose. Lindsey Wyatt was the latest, found on Tuesday, October 7. She was a senior at George Fox University, and had been stashed behind a row of bushes in front of one of the academic buildings. A black rose protruded from her mouth that no longer had lips. Incredibly, she had survived her assault, though she was expected to die any moment. Which was why Hopper had summoned Jane. His daughter could reach the unreachable. Or at least, she had done so before.
He didn’t like taking advantage of Jane’s powers for police work, but he saw no alternative. Black Rose was Oregon’s worst serial killer in years.
“Don’t keep me in suspense,” she said.
“I won’t,” he said, sitting across from her. “As I said last night, I hate asking you this.”
“You said there’s a killer you can’t catch?”
“Yeah. A really bad one.”
“Black Rose?” she asked.
“Yes,” he said, surprised. “How much do you know about him?”
“Only what I read in The Oregonian. It’s been covering the killings.”
Of course it would. Hopper didn’t read the Portland paper anymore, nor even The Newberg Graphic. He had lost his appetite for news. If he wanted to be that depressed, he lived his life. “Well, he struck again Monday night. His fourth victim. The incredible thing is that she survived the attack. But she’s in a coma. She’s been in the hospital since yesterday morning.”
“Who is she?” asked Jane.
“Lindsey Wyatt,” said Hopper. He took a photo from the envelope. “It’s not pleasant,” he warned.
“I’ve seen unpleasant things,” she said.
An understatement. But not like this. Not from the hand of a human being. He placed the crime photo on the coffee table.
Her watched her closely as she remained stately and calm. Most people would have recoiled or gotten sick. Like all the Black Rose victims, Lindsey Wyatt had been stabbed and slashed in a complete abrogation of her dignity. The wounds came from a serrated blade that had sliced her neck, taken off her face, ripped open her torso, and entirely removed her lips. She was nude, so the lacerations could be counted, despite the blood. Six on the chest and stomach: one so ragged, it was more like a tear than a slice, gaping so wide that innards were showing. Two on each the shoulder. Two on one leg, one on another. The face was no longer one to speak of: one of the eyes was dug out, the lips slit off, the ears half gone, and the nose left in ribbons. Whoever had done this was filled with a grinding bottomless rage.
Jane looked up incredulously. “She’s still alive?”
“Barely,” said Hopper. “She’s on life support and in a coma. She could die any minute.”
“What do you need me for?” she asked.
“To do your thing,” he said.
“Get Lindsey Wyatt to show you things. In the Void.” That’s what Jane had done with her catatonic mother, Terry Ives. It was back in 1984, when she had run away from Hopper’s cabin. Jane had later told him how she used her powers to establish a telepathic link with Ives, which enabled her mother to show Jane the chain of events leading to her catatonic state — especially the abuse she suffered at the hands of Dr. Brenner. She had done a similar thing with Billy Hargrove in the summer of 1985. If Jane could prompt a vision like either one of those from Lindsey Wyatt, she might learn the identity of the Black Rose Killer. Or at least see what he looks like.
“I can’t do that with a photo,” she said.
“What do you mean?” he asked. “You’ve used photos all the time. It’s how you found your mother.”
“It’s how I found her,” said Jane, “but not how I got her to communicate with me. If I’m just trying to locate someone, or see what they’re doing, and I don’t know what they look like, then a photo will do fine. But to establish a mental link — to see inside someone’s mind — I need to be right next to the person. Like I was at my mother’s house, when she showed me what Dr. Brenner did to her, and that I had a lab sister.”
“You weren’t next to Billy Hargrove,” he said. “Or at least that’s what you told me.” She had gotten into Billy’s memories and seen him as a child when he was happy.
“But Billy and I had already been in close physical contact.”
An understatement. The bastard had almost choked her to death. Hopper thought a moment. “Okay. So what if I get you inside the hospital? Into Wyatt’s room?”
“They’re allowing visitors?”
“Hell, no. And there’s a policeman outside Wyatt’s room, in case Black Rose tries finishing the job. He’s probably read the news and learned that his victim survived.”
“Then how do we sneak in?” she asked.
“We don’t sneak,” he said. “I’m the sheriff. I don’t have full jurisdiction in Newberg, but I still have authority. If the guard or the medical staff ask questions, I’ll say you’re a close friend of Wyatt’s. Hopefully that will work.”
She shrugged. “I’m willing to try. But I can’t guarantee anything. The person has to be willing to communicate with me, and Lindsey Wyatt doesn’t know me. My mother was aware of me on some level — she wanted to show me what happened to her. I’ll have to be delicate with Wyatt. Try to convince her I’m a friend. In her state, I could do more harm than good. I mean, I could even kill her. If she feels threatened by me.”
That wouldn’t be good at all. “I think we have to risk it. The doctors say she’s going to die anyway. And I don’t know any other way to find out who Black Rose is.”
“I can try,” she repeated.
“You have your bandana and radio?” On the phone he had told her to bring them.
She nodded. “I’ll get them from the car.”
On the drive to the hospital, Hopper reviewed more of the case with her. Black Rose had killed his victims at least a week apart from each other: seven days after Stacey Carrier, nine days after Fiona Ray, and eleven days after Evelyn Brody. If that pattern stayed the same, he would kill again on the night of Sunday, October 19 — thirteen days after the night Lindsey Wyatt was attacked. The victims shared a distinct profile: each woman was in her twenties, unmarried, and widely respected in the community. Carrier, 24, had been the Aquatics Coordinator at the Chehalem Aquatic & Fitness Center; her murder had stunned and demoralized the institution’s staff. Ray, 28, had been everyone’s favorite librarian; the director of the Newberg Public Library was organizing funds to build a special wing dedicated to Fiona Ray. Brody, 25, had worked for herself at The Red Kiwi Art Studio, and sold many of her paintings to the locals. Her studio had a small cafe, with free brunches on Sundays to anyone who had ever bought a painting from her. Wyatt, 21, had aspired to be a philosopher. She had everything going for her: in the top two percent of her class, a great public speaker, and lauded by her instructors.
Black Rose had some grievance against attractive young women who were independent. And he took his bloody time with them. According to forensics, each woman had been raped for at least ten or fifteen minutes, but not at the place where she was stabbed and left for dead. The killer had abducted these women not far from their work or study place, drove them somewhere private, violated them, and then brought them to a secluded area not far from where he had first taken them. There he slaughtered them.
“I know you’ve explained this before,” said Jane, “but why aren’t you in charge of the investigation, if you’re the sheriff?”
“Newberg has its own police force, with a police chief,” he said.
The same was true for McMinnville, Carlton, and Yamhill. In those four towns, the sheriff’s office (located in McMinnville) provided only supplementary support to the locals. Hopper’s full jurisdiction fell on the towns that had no police: Amity, Bellevue, Dayton, Dundee, Lafayette, Willamina, and Sheridan. The irony frustrated him. Newberg was his home town. He wasn’t going to play second fiddle while Black Rose tore it apart. Not when he could use Jane as a secret weapon.
He turned into the hospital, and pulled his sheriff’s car into the visitor’s lot. Jane grabbed her backpack, and they walked to the Emergency Room entrance. In the ambulance bay, red lights flashed like Morse code.
“Is the guard going to check my pack?” asked Jane, as they went through the revolving doors of the entrance.
“No idea,” said Hopper. In addition to her radio were two of Hopper’s books: a Tom Clancy novel and a wilderness guide to the Pacific Northwest. He had thrown them in her pack for added show, just in case. “Wyatt is on the second floor,” he said. “Follow me, and let me do the talking.”
Inside the lobby, a clerk busied himself at the reception area. Hopper led Jane straight to the elevator, and they rode it to the second floor. They got out of the elevator and went down a hall past a nurse’s station, taking the turns that Hopper knew led to Lindsey Wyatt’s room. At the final turn, they saw a uniformed officer standing in the hallway. He watched Hopper and Jane as they approached.
“Hey,” said Hopper.
“Sheriff,” said the officer, looking uncertain.
“This is Jane, a close friend of the victim. I told her I’d let her see her for a few minutes.”
The officer wasn’t happy with that. “I’m not supposed to let in anyone who hasn’t been cleared by Dr. Wingate. Even the victim’s family can only visit for short periods.”
“I know that,” said Hopper. “But she just wants to hold her friend’s hand. She could die any time now.”
The officer looked hard at Jane, then nodded. “Yeah, that should be fine. You’ll go in with her, right?”
“Yeah,” said Hopper. “We’ll just be a few minutes.”
The officer opened the door for them.
“Thank you, officer,” said Jane.
Inside the room, Lindsey Wyatt lay hooked to a thousand tubes and wires, bandaged to resemble a mummy. Standing by her bed made Hopper feel sick. Photos, no matter how graphic, were like movies; safely removed. The flesh made demands. We’ll catch him, Lindsey. It’s why we’re here.
He looked at Jane and nodded. She removed her pack and took out the small radio, turning it on to a frequency of white noise. Hopper looked at the door. There seemed to be enough noise in the hall so that their static wouldn’t call attention. He pushed a nearby chair to Wyatt’s bedside, and Jane sat in it. She pulled her bandana from the front pocket of her pack, and tied it around her eyes. There were tissues there too, for the inevitable nosebleed. Then she gently took Wyatt’s hand in hers.
The static hissed, and Hopper watched the two women. He had no clue what either was experiencing. Jane was becoming focused as she reached into Wyatt, while Wyatt remained externally unchanged. He watched them like that for about three minutes. Then Jane inhaled sharply. Hopper started sweating. What do you see? Wyatt was still lifeless on the outside, but she must have given Jane something. Suddenly Jane whimpered. Her nose began to bleed, and she winced as if seeing something awful. Hopper wanted to ask if she was okay, but he didn’t dare interrupt her process. He checked the door. The officer would be coming in soon.
Then Jane cried out softly, and Hopper tensed. She was hyperventilating; witnessing something traumatic. “No,” she moaned. “Please.” Do this, kid. Get what we need. Jane clasped Wyatt’s hand tighter —
— and Wyatt moved.
The patient snatched her hand out of Jane’s grasp and clutched it to her chest. For a terrible moment her monitors bleeped. Hopper looked at the screens, panicking. If Wyatt died now, then he was in a world of shit. His presence in the room was unauthorized; he had caused a patient enough stress to kill her; and he had lied about his daughter’s relationship to her. But the monitors returned to normal almost instantly. He prayed his gratitude.
Jane ripped her bandana off, still breathing hard. She looked pale and about to pass out. Hopper killed the radio and held her. “Just breathe, kid. Take it easy.” He grabbed tissues from her pack and swabbed her nose. “You did good.” I hope.
She took the tissue from his hand and held it against her nose. She was dazed and needed rest, but he had to know. “Did you see him? Black Rose?”
“It must have been horrible,” he said, unable to imagine.
“It was,” she said, her eyes filling with tears. “I told Lindsey I was a friend and finally reached her. She showed me her attack. It was on the university campus.”
“Yeah, George Fox,” said Hopper. “She was a student there.”
“She was outside at night, and he was just… there all of a sudden. He wore a ski mask.”
Hopper’s heart sank. A masked man was no help at all. “Go on.”
“He had a gun pressed to her back and told her to get in his car. It was right nearby. Then he put her arms behind her back and snapped handcuffs on her, and threw her in the back seat.”
“Handcuffs?” asked Hopper. “Are you sure? He didn’t tie her?”
“They were handcuffs,” said Jane.
“Did you see the handcuffs?” he persisted. “Or did they just ‘feel’ like it in the vision? Were her hands bound behind her back?”
“Dad, be quiet and listen. He drove and brought her to a house. It was a white house with the American flag hanging by the entrance, and a picket fence surrounding it. And a few trees and bushes in the yard.”
“No number on the house, by any chance?”
“I don’t know. I didn’t see the door up close. Then the vision went to inside the house. She was being raped there. The handcuffs were off by that point.”
He felt cold. “What did the house look like inside?” he asked.
“I didn’t see much of that. I was seeing what she saw, and it was dark inside. Just shades of furniture here and there.”
“Okay, so the house must be where he’s raping all the victims.” A white house with the American flag hanging by the entrance, and a picket fence surrounding it. And a few trees and bushes in the yard. Why did that sound familiar?
“Then they were in the car again. The handcuffs were back on. Then they were on campus again. But in a different area, behind a building. He… well, you see her now. He did that to her.” She pointed at the bed.
“Could you tell how long the drive was between the campus and the house?”
“No,” she said. “The vision wasn’t all in real time. Lindsey’s mind was ‘fast-forwarding’ to the important parts.”
“This is still good,” he said. “I’m going to –”
“There’s more, Dad. And you’re not going to like it.”
He braced himself. “Go on.”
“When he reached into his coat pocket for his knife, I saw something else there.”
“What was it?”
She paused. “A badge.”
Hopper’s blood congealed. “What do you mean? A police badge?”
“It said ‘Newberg Police’ on it. Black Rose is a cop. And I finally saw the handcuffs — obviously police handcuffs. When he took them off the second time, back on campus. Right as he began to butcher her.”
Hopper was aghast. But he dreaded even more the answer to his next question. “What color?” he asked.
“What?” said Jane.
“The badge. Was it silver or gold?”
“Gold. Does it matter?”
Hopper sat on the floor and closed his eyes. It was the worst of possible scenarios. His home town was being terrorized by the worst serial killer in the county’s history. And he was a police detective.
Next Chapter: Dirty Gold