Episode 807

- Molly slept with Philip for the first time since calling off their engagement last year. She later invited him to join her family for Thanksgiving. 
- The Fishers spent Thanksgiving at the hospital to be near comatose Tori. 
- Philip resolved to kill Tori before she could wake up and identify him as the Footprint Killer, but the amount of people at the hospital caused him to put off his plans. 

He can hardly remember the last time he was not awake to see the sun rise. This morning is no exception for Philip Ragan; after a night of restless, troubled sleep, he floats back toward the surface of consciousness well before the light creeps over the horizon. The only difference today is his location. For the first time in almost a year, he spent the night in Molly Taylor’s bed, her warm body beside him. The sight of her sleeping brings a grin to his face, as he remembers holding her in his arms and making love to her after they returned from her family’s Thanksgiving celebration last night.

But, just as they did during his thin, stressful hours of sleep, the other memories come back to him, like tendrils of smoke weaving their way around him until he can see and smell and feel nothing else. Yes, he has Molly back again — but he fears that he will forever be haunted by the things he had to do in order to bring her back to him.

He never intended for it to go this way. Maybe that was why it went so awry at the start; the idea of hurting Jason never quite settled for him, not when Philip’s mother first planted the idea in his head, and not once he started back to King’s Bay to carry out the task. He was careful about the details: he rented a car back east and drove with as few stops as possible back to Washington in time for New Year’s Eve, so that there would be no record of him having flown cross-country during that time. He purchased cheap dress clothes  that he could throw away — but, in case anyone saw him around the party, he could explain that he rushed home ahead of schedule to try and win Molly back. But when it came time to do the deed, his nerves nearly got the best of him. When Sandy James walked into the audio-video booth at the arena instead of Jason, Philip would have been happy to remain hidden and abandon the plan — but then she spotted him, and he had no choice but to kill her to ensure her silence. He cringes as he recalls ripping the skate blade across her throat, causing the life to spill from her body in horrifying crimson streams. 

In his haste to flee before her body was found, he stepped in some of her blood. Something about the pair of bloody footprints appealed to the artist in him; as he has found time and time again in his photography, the most interesting touches often come about as a result of circumstance. Shoes in hand, he fled in only his socks, still unable to believe what he had done, and he drove the rental car back to the east coast. Days later, he boarded a flight to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, and no one had any idea that he had been in King’s Bay on New Year’s Eve. 

Although no one suspected him of Sandy’s murder, there was a drawback: Molly had no reason to be fearful. As Philip predicted, they all believed that, whether or not Jason was the intended victim, it must have something to do with that Shannon Parish woman who had killed Courtney. Philip realized that, as sickening as it had been to take Sandy’s life, he would have to act again. However, he made a mistake: while offering Jason his condolences over Sandy’s death, he spoke with the man, and he decided there was no way that he could kill a man raising a young girl alone. He had rationalized that it would be an act of mercy, given how hard Jason had grieved for his late wife, but that conversation made it impossible for him to envision going through with the murder.

After weeks of torturing himself, Philip settled on an effective victim: Ryan. There was his connection to the arena and Jason, just as Sandy had. There was his history in organized crime, which accounted for any number of enemies. And there was the fact that he once tried to frame his own brother for murder. In a way, it would be poetic for Ryan Moriani to die in the same manner that he himself had tried to kill Nick Moriani. Philip took care to recreate the scene of Nick’s shooting, from the broken window to the location of the bullet, but he could not resist one additional touch: the footprints. They provided a signature, a mystifying link between Sandy’s death and Ryan’s, and they confounded the police and the family in a way that made Philip certain he would never be suspected, let alone caught. 

And it worked. In her grief, Molly turned to him again. Philip felt his goal had been accomplished. In a brilliant twist of fate, Jason’s former mother-in-law managed to implicate herself in both murders, and she was arrested. Philip felt twinges of guilt, but the woman had been terrorizing Jason — from kidnapping his daughter to harassing him about his new girlfriend — so Philip reasoned that he had done both Jason and Sophie a favor. 

That should have been the end of it. However, Molly pulled back, remaining resistant to an actual reunion with Philip. He was so close that he could almost feel her flesh under his fingertips again, taste her lips on his — but he could not have her. He did not want to kill again, but he didn’t think he would have to; the footprints stamped in blood seemed to be his ticket. All he would have to do was make it appear as though the killer had set his or her sights on Molly as the next victim, and, with any luck, that fear would be enough to make her welcome Philip fully back into her life. Yes, it meant exonerating Helen Chase, but if Molly believed Helen was the killer and was no longer a threat, it would have all been for naught. 

He waited for a night when he knew that she and Cameron would not be at the office, and — thanks to his careful study of the Objection building, Winston Tower — he was able to access her office to stage a threatening scene without detection. It would have gone perfectly had Cameron not returned to the office after that meeting and found him. Left with no choice, Philip attacked him, and he channeled his frustrations into every swing of that lamp, every bash against Cameron’s head, as blood spilled across the carpet and the walls. 

He thought that would be the end of it, but mere minutes later, someone else arrived in the office. Had Cameron not tried to bargain with Philip by explaining that Trevor Brooks was coming by to pick up a digital recorder, Philip might never have known who was on the other side of that door. He was able to remain quiet, so that Trevor left without entering the office, and soon afterward, Philip fled the building via the stairwell, where he knew there were no security cameras.

But Trevor’s visit had created a new problem. Even if Cameron had been bluffing about the recorder still being on, Philip had no way of knowing that if he didn’t get his hands on the device. He almost retrieved it without a problem. The house was supposed to be empty: he had no idea that Trevor and Lauren’s parents had returned home from a vacation that very day in a taxi, so when Trevor and Alex left the house, Philip assumed the coast was clear. When Roz Brooks stumbled upon him with the recorder, he had no choice but to eliminate her, too.

He vowed that would be the end of it. The killings stayed with him day and night, creeping up to remind him of what kind of man he had become any time that he let down his guard. The irony, of course, is that he had begun the entire undertaking for that very reason — because Molly had proclaimed him to be immoral and untrustworthy after he lied to protect Spencer. 

She thinks I’m no better than either of my parents, he recalls thinking after Molly called off the wedding. It was a thought that consumed him in the weeks that followed. When he visited his mother in prison and explained that, she laughed her cruel, brittle laugh through the glass at him.

“Of course you aren’t,” she had said. “You know that, Philip. Deep down, you know it. We do what we must to get what we want. If that frivolous woman considers that a bad thing, so be it. Let her have her silly little dress shop and her policeman and her dull life."

Philip couldn’t have turned his back on Molly. Not then, and not once his work was underway. But, as he and Loretta discussed in coded terms through that exhausting telephone, if Molly already considered him to be one kind of person… why not be that person and ensure that he could have her back? 

And now he does. He rolls onto his side and slides an arm over her sleeping form, soothed by the gentle rise and fall of her breaths. He has her back. Tori Gray nearly ruined everything for him, but if not for her coma, Molly might never have taken Philip back so willingly. Yes, his planned final touch — the bird and black rose, meant to frighten her with the memory of that desperate stalker she nearly married years and years ago — helped, but her niece’s mysterious attack and fragile state turned out to be the thing that sealed the deal. 

There is only one thing left to do. He could and should have done it last night, when the Fishers gathered at the hospital to celebrate Thanksgiving near Tori, but he lost his nerve when he saw Molly at Tori’s bedside. Truth be told, he lost his nerve long ago — he swore that Roz would be the last person he hurt. But Tori knows too much, and if she does wake up from that coma, all those people will have died for nothing, and Molly will be devastated.

Easing his arm from around Molly slowly so as not to wake her, Philip rolls out of bed. Outside, the sky is still a shapeless mass of black — but it won’t be for much longer. 

* * * * *

“I’m not reading this,” Luke Berman says, holding his headphones with one hand as he tosses the sheet of paper onto the desk in front of him.

Diane Bishop reaches across and grabs the paper. “Then I’ll read it. I’m not taking any chances."

One of their producers stands, arms folded, in front of them in the small recording booth at KBAY. “It’s up to you guys. We already called the police."

“It’s some wannabe or nutjob with nothing better to do,” Luke says.

Diane stares down at the cutout magazine letters at the top of the page: READ THIS ON AIR OR YOU BOTH DIE!

“I know the victims. I’m not getting myself killed over this,” she says as she studies the poem in front of her. “This is really bad, though."

“Who has the time to cut out all those letters?” Luke asks, as if that might sway her.

Diane looks at him with widened eyes. “Someone who has the time to plan a bunch of murders?"

“At any rate, the police are coming, so try not to get your fingers all over it,” the producer says. “We’re back in five.” He takes his seat, and the cohosts pull on their headphones as they watch the countdown and listen to the prerecorded bit that brings the show back from commercial. 

“We’re back,” Luke says into the hanging microphone as he casts an uneasy look across at Diane. “It’s Black Friday, so a lot of you are probably out there—"

“And one person in particular has been busy this morning,” Diane says. “Someone slipped an envelope under the studio door a little while ago, and it’s— inside was a poem written in letters cut out from magazines, all about the Footprint Killer and his victims."

“It’s sick."

“It is,” she says. “But, in the interest of full disclosure, there’s also a threat against Luke and me if we don’t read the poem on-air. So, you know, better safe than sorry. Here goes…"

She takes a deep breath, avoids Luke’s eyes, and begins to read:

“‘The Footprint Killer, he took a skate,
And sent Sandy James to a deadly fate.
The Footprint Killer, he used a gun
To give Ryan Moriani a deadly one.
The Footprint Killer, he gave Cameron
With a lamp a deadly hammerin’.’"

Luke groans when Diane pauses. The rest of the studio is even more silent than usual, and it takes all her willpower not to make a crack about how dreadful the poem is. She continues:

“‘The Footprint Killer, from the second story,
Shoved Roz Brooks ’til she was gory.
The Footprint Killer, he beat Tori Gray,
But might finish the job another day.
The Footprint Killer, he not through—' Okay, that’s how it’s written,” Diane says. “Guess someone couldn’t find an extra apostrophe-s in Psychotic Killers Monthly.” 

Luke frowns at her as she reads the final couplet:

“‘The Footprint Killer, he not through,
All of King’s Bay could soon be dead, too!’"

“Well, that was real nice,” Luke says.

“Whoever you are, I hope you’re happy,” Diane says as the producer uses a tissue to take the paper away from her. “You got your poem read. Now stay the hell away from us.” Despite the force in her voice, she cannot keep a shudder from running through her body.

* * * * *

When Molly awakens, the bedroom is still dim, though the window reveals a murky gray sky outside. She turns over and finds the bed empty beside herself. A collection of thoughts whirl through her head. Did Philip leave after she fell asleep? Did he simply get out of bed before her? After taking a few moments to gather her wits, she pulls on her silk robe and makes her way downstairs.

She finds him in the kitchen, unpacking a reusable grocery bag on the island. 

“Good morning,” he says with a smile. 

“Good morning.” Molly rounds the island and takes in the bagels, cream cheese, and lox that he is setting out. “You went out already?"

Philip shrugs. “I couldn’t sleep. I thought you might appreciate having breakfast when you woke up."

“I do.” She slips her arms around his torso. “Thank you.” Then she notices something on the opposite counter. “You got me flowers, too?"

He winces at the still-wrapped bouquet. “Not exactly."

“Something I need to know?” she asks with a grin.

“I left my scarf at the hospital last night,” he explains. “In Tori’s room, I’m almost certain. I need to go pick it up, but I don’t want to barge in there empty-handed."

“You are incredibly thoughtful. I’m sure no one would hold it against you to pick up your own scarf without bringing flowers."

“They might brighten up Tori’s room, too."

She nods. “Sarah and Matt will appreciate them, I’m sure. And so will Tori, when she wakes up."

Philip busies himself with opening the cream cheese. “I’ll go over there after we eat."

“I’ll come with you,” she says, hugging him tighter. “You’re so— you really think of everything."

“I try,” he says before planting a kiss on the top of her head. “I truly do.” 

* * * * *

“Don’t tell me they’ve had you here all night,” Bill Fisher tells the uniformed young woman standing against the wall in the ICU hallway.

“No, just got back,” Rosie Jimenez says, holding up her to-go coffee cup. “Even managed to get a few hours of sleep."

“I’m glad to hear that,” Paula Fisher says. “Thank you for watching over our granddaughter."

Rosie offers a compassionate look. “Here’s hoping she’ll be out of here soon."

The Fishers thank her and open the door to Tori’s room. 

“We come bearing pastries,” Paula announces as they enter. 

“Morning,” Matt Gray says from his seat beside the bed. 

Sarah, standing behind her husband, looks up with tired eyes, weighed down by heavy bags and dark shadows. “You didn’t have to do that."

“We wanted to make sure you both had breakfast,” Bill says as he sets the basket down on a chair in the corner. 

“Thanks,” Sarah says as she moves to dig through the basket. “Mom, did you bake?"

Paula shrugs. “I was up early. I know how much you love those blueberry muffins."

“That’s really nice of you.” Sarah’s face displays the closest thing to a smile that any of them have seen since Tori’s attack, as she takes out a blueberry muffin.

“And after you eat,” Paula says, “or even before — you can take the basket with you—"

Sarah freezes. “Take it where?"

“We think you should both go home for a while,” Paula says. “Get some sleep. We’ll stay with Tori."

“We promise to call if there’s any news at all,” Bill adds. “We already spoke to Jason. He and Alex are happy to keep Billy today. They’re going to take him and Sophie to the park later.” 

Sarah over at Matt uncertainly. “I don’t know…"

“I could use some sleep,” he says before letting out a heavy sigh. 

“You’re no use to Tori if you’re exhausted,” Paula says. “When she wakes up, she’s going to need both of you to be your sharpest.” 

Matt stands and wraps an arm over Sarah’s shoulders. 

“Some sleep would do us both good,” he says.

She hesitates and then leans her head against him. “Okay. For a few hours. Thanks, Mom and Dad. But you have to promise to call—"

“We promise,” Paula says, placing her hand over her heart. “The next thing you know, you’ll be well rested, and there will be wonderful news. I just know it.” 

* * * * *

“Stay with your father,” Diane says into her cell phone. “I’ll see you in a little while. I love you.” She hangs up and places the phone back in her purse. 

“If you don’t need anything else, I’m going to get out of here,” she says to Detective Harris, who now has the envelope and poem in a plastic bag. They stand in the main part of the studio with several others, including Luke. 

“You’re free to go,” Harris says. “We’ll send that off for testing. Thanks for letting us know."

Luke eyes the plastic bag suspiciously. “Gives me the heebie-jeebies. Even if it is B.S."

“Even if it is some nut looking to get his jollies by scaring you guys on-air, we’ll figure it out.” Harris hands the bag off to a uniformed officer. “Commander Taylor is on his way back from his family Thanksgiving. He should be in King’s Bay in a few hours."

“Good,” Diane says, hitching up her purse on her shoulder. “I’m going to go see my daughter — and none of us are leaving the house until this maniac is caught."

* * * * *

The hospital seems oddly sedate as Molly and Philip enter the ICU’s waiting area. There is no frantic shouting, no gurney being raced through, no sense of foreboding tension in the air. As they cross the space, they see Molly’s parents, sister, and brother-in-law emerge from the opposite doors. 

“What brings you by?” Bill asks as they all meet in the center of the room.

“I left my scarf here last night,” Philip explains with a sheepish lift of his shoulder. He indicates the flowers in his left hand. “But I brought these for Tori to apologize for leaving my things all over her room."

“They’re beautiful,” Sarah says of the colorful bouquet. “Thank you."

“Have you guys been here all night?” Molly asks.

Sarah and Matt nod.

“We’ve convinced them to go home and sleep for a few hours,” Bill says. “Your mother and I are going to sit with Tori."

“We can keep you company for a bit,” Molly says.

“I can’t think of a nicer way to spend the morning,” Philip chimes in. “I’m going to go put these in the room and find that scarf. Come in when you’re ready."

He leaves Molly with her family, and his heartbeat quickens as he nears Tori’s room. He has to suppress a scowl at the sight of that police officer outside, though at least it is the same one as last night. She greets him with a simple wave.

“Good morning,” Philip says, holding up the flowers. “I’m just dropping these off. How are you?"

“Good, thanks."

“If you need to take a break to use the restroom or anything, I’ll be in here for a few minutes, so feel free to take advantage."

Rosie indicates her nearly empty coffee cup. “That would be great. Thanks. I’ll be right back."

“It’s no trouble.” As she heads down the corridor, he enters the room. The blinds are already closed, and he closes the door behind himself as he thinks about how to do this. 

After setting the flowers on the stand beneath the window, he moves around to the side of Tori’s bed nearer to the door. With his back to the entrance, he reaches inside his jacket and, bypassing the gun in his pocket, quickly pulls out the vial of solution and the needle. This should only take a moment — if his trembling fingers will cooperate.

He sinks the needle into the vial and then releases the plunger. His hands feel clammy and his heart thuds as the seconds tick away and the solution swims up into the syringe. When he pulls the needle out, he tucks the nearly empty vial back into his pocket and glances over his shoulder at the closed door.

Do it, he tells himself. Just do it.

He cannot look at the young woman, so still and beautiful in the bed, as he lifts the syringe toward her IV line and tries twice to insert the needle before he actually gets it in.

“It’s over,” he says as he depresses the plunger, releasing the solution into her IV line. “It’s over."

“What’s over?” calls a voice from behind him. “What do you think you’re doing?"


Will Philip be able to talk his way out of this?
Who walked in on him in the act?
Will Tori be saved from the poison in time?
Discuss it all in the Footprints Forum now!

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