The BTK Lockdown Support Group

Length: 6 minute read

I wrote this piece following a discussion within our writing group as to how the lockdown might affect different sections of the population. Despite only having written this story four months ago, it already seems dated. Zoom-bombing has largely faded from the cultural lexicon when once people debated the issue with near hysteria on a daily basis. Unfortunately, the lockdown has not similarly faded. Not only does it continue for many of us, but in some parts of the world, governments have re-implemented the lockdown following a resurgence in infections. Soon, I hope, this story will be a mere period piece.

The character names refer to real historical individuals but are not intended to be those specific people. Instead, the characters in my story are fan boys using their chosen pseudonyms for anonymity. To learn the names of the characters they refer to, see the bottom of the page. 

Content Warning: This story refers to (but does not describe) acts of violence and murder.

The BTK Lockdown Support Group

Zee is inviting you to a scheduled meeting.

Topic: The BTK Lockdown Support Group

Time: Apr 14, 2020 03:00 PM

Meeting ID: **********

“Jesus Christ, dude. Last night, I was so bored, I almost stabbed a fork in my eye.” The grid of cartoon faces on Zee’s screen nod and chuckle.

“Man, I hear you,” says Sam Jr, a comedy dog. “This lockdown is driving me nuts. I’m about ready to slaughter the family next door, the obnoxious assholes.”

“Come on, you guys. Are you serious?” JWG, a blue-eyed clown, shakes his head. “I love this! Working from home? Not needing to dress up and play the role of respectable businessman but still getting paid? It’s paradise.”

The other attendees groan.

“But you can’t go out!" Zee says. "What do you do for fun?”

“Watch TV?” says Ted, a fluffy yellow bear.

There is laughter.

“Yes, actually,” JWG replies. “I have a ton of old videos. Some, I’d forgotten I even had. It’s great to watch them again. Besides, unlike you guys, I never went out much before, only on special occasions.”

Ted sighs. “I’m sorry, but sitting at home watching movies just doesn’t cut it for me. The movie theatre’s alright. At least you’re around actual living people. And there’s always the chance of a hookup and some fun.”

There is raucous laughter.

“You mean fun inside the movie theatre or afterwards?” Sam Jr says.

“Whichever—I’m easy!” Ted laughs.

“But seriously,” Zee asks. “Has anyone actually done it inside the theatre, like, while the movie is playing?”

The laughter fades.

“I have,” Sam says.

“You?” Zee queries. “Who knew you were so wild?”

“Oh, it was a long time ago. I was a lot younger and more reckless back then.”

“No shit?” Sam Jr sounds impressed. “Like, all the way? Were there other people in the theatre?”

“Oh yeah, all the way,” JWG says. “The theatre was empty apart from an old guy asleep on the front row; we were on the back. I had to put my hand over her mouth, she was making so much noise. It was pretty funny.”

“Man, what a stallion!” Sam Jr laughs. “And no one caught you?”

“No, it was a real dump. And back then, you didn’t need to worry about CCTV. Besides, the usher looked about ninety. He didn’t even bother to stand up and check our tickets.”

There is laughter.

“Oh, man,” Zee says. “Amazing. But that makes it worse! I’m young. I should be out having fun like that. Instead, I’m wasting my life away stuck in this apartment.”

“Then go outside,” Ted says. “Look at JW. He was doing a girl in the theatre. You think they allowed that? He didn’t give a shit about the rules. He just did it. Quit being a pussy and go out and have some fun.”

“But what if I catch the virus?”

Sam Jr snorts. “Wear a mask and gloves, like you’re supposed to.” He sniggers. “And wash your hands afterwards.”

The others laugh.

“Yeah, right now, you're required to wear a mask! You can roam around and have fun even if there are cameras,” Ted says. “Just keep a bag of groceries in your car in case anyone asks why you’re out. Besides, the pigs are all so busy breaking up parties and taking people into quarantine, by the time they respond you’ll be long gone. It’s like every day is Halloween. Enjoy it!”

“I guess,” Zee replies. “But isn’t everything closed?”

“Why go outside?” Sam Jr says. “Have fun in your own apartment building.”

There are howls of derision.

“Shitting where you sleep?” Ted says. “That’s a recipe for disaster, man. Don’t go there, it’s not worth the hassle. Take a walk, at least.”

“But what’s the point?" Zee says. "The streets are empty.”

“Not completely. You see people around. There’s fun to be had, if you know where to look.”

Zee sighs. “Care to enlighten me where? Because from my window, I’m not seeing much potential.”

“College neighbourhoods are always a solid bet,” Ted says. “Breaking the rules gets college kids hot, didn’t you know that? Picking them up is easier than it ever was.”

“But where do you do the deed itself?”

“Depends. A quickie you can do in your truck or even out in the street. But if you’re after BTK, you’re better off in the lot of a shuttered warehouse.” “And after?”

“Again, it depends,” Ted says. “Are you looking to make a statement or to simply get out of there? Me, once I’m done, I’m done. I toss it under some bushes. Obviously, if there’s a lake or pond nearby, I’ll use that. These days, it’ll lie there weeks without being discovered. Anyone who’s outside is wearing a mask and can’t smell for shit. By the time the science nerds arrive, the stray cats and dogs will have taken their turn too.” He shrugs. “Unless you’re dumb, or you’re looking for notoriety, you’re golden.”

“Man, that’s great. I never realised,” Zee says. “Y’know, I’ve always wanted to add a little spontaneity to how I do things. I’m a planner, which keeps me safe and all, but it’s also a pain in the ass. Sometimes, by the time I’m prepared, the urge has passed, you know what I mean?”

Ted nods. “I hear you, buddy. It’s tough to maintain your discipline. Most people don’t appreciate that. But consider this lockdown a holiday, an opportunity to explore your options. Who knows? Maybe you’ll discover you’re a pantser at heart.”

“Yeah, and make a video,” JWG says. “Those GoPros work fantastic. Take it from me, rewatching them is a real joy.”

“Guys,” Sam Jr says. “I gotta leave you. I’m Zoombombing a kids party in ten minutes.”

JWG shakes his head. “Man, that’s just low.”

“Well, our free forty are over anyways,” Zee says. “So, until next time, BTK everyone!”

JWG makes cross-eyes. “Bind!”

Sam Jr sticks out his tongue. “Torture!”

Ted draws a finger across his throat. “Kill!”

They laugh.

The host has ended the meeting.

S.G. Parker

14th April, 2020

The grisly real-life characters referenced by the participants:

Zee: Zodiac Killer

Avatar: Cross-hairs

Known to have murdered five people in Northern California from the late 60s to the early 70s. Two of his other victims survived. He claimed to have killed 37 in total. Infamous for sending cryptograms and taunting letters to the newspapers that included the cross-hairs symbol, which also appeared on his clothing. Remains an open case.

JWG: John Wayne Gacy, “Killer Clown"

Avatar: Clown

Known to have raped and murdered a minimum of 33 teenage boys and young men between 1972 and 1978, 26 of whom he buried in the crawl space of his Chicago home. He often entertained children at social events dressed in a clown costume.

Sam Jr: David Berkowitz, "Son of Sam"

Avatar: Demon dog

Shot and murdered 8 people and wounded 7 others between 1976–7 in New York City. He wrote letters mocking the police that the press published, fuelling the climate of fear amongst the city’s population. When caught, he claimed a demon had possessed his next-door neighbour Sam’s labrador, and had ordered him to commit the murders. He later confessed this was a hoax intended to aid his defence plea.

Ted: Ted Bundy

Avatar: Teddy bear

Raped and murdered at least 30 women between 1974–8 across 7 states. Seen as charming and handsome, he commonly abducted his victims from public places. He defended himself and escaped custody twice, adding to his notoriety, and went on to commit further murders and violent sexual assaults, including breaking into a sorority house at night and attacking multiple women while the others slept.

BTK: Dennis Rader, "BTK Killer"

Avatar: Female mask

Murdered 10 people between 1974–91 in Kansas. He taunted the police in letters he sent to newspapers describing his crimes and referring to himself as BTK (Bind, Torture, Kill). During the periods between his murders, he would re-enact them, taking photographs of himself dressed in women’s clothing and a female mask where he pretended to be his victims. He was finally caught in 2005 after he resumed sending messages to local media while preparing to kill again. He was president of the Christ Lutheran church council in Wichita at the the time of his arrest and a club scout leader.