The Zodiac Diaries

By , Sturgis, SD
The Zodiac Diaries
Chief Suhr,
Years ago my family took a vacation down to visit my godmother in San Diego. It was a fun trip, we went to Disneyland, the obligatory trip to the beach, and because my godmother works at Sea World we got to do some behind the scenes stuff there. I must say, the most interesting part of the trip was our trip to Old San Diego.
That’s the part that was originally settled. There’s a lot of interesting shops representing multiple nationalities, most are tourist traps, but living in a state that has a lot of tourism as well I can at least confirm they were better tourist places. My souvenir was a copy of Island of the Blue Dolphins, recommended to me by my mother and godmother. I was reading it outside a shop where they made tortillas from corn by hand. My god mother insisted we had to have some. The shop was too loud for me, so I was sitting outside in a rare bit of freedom reading my book when an old man sat next to me. After appearing to think for a minute the man started to talk to me. “You look like a sharp kid,” evidence of years of smoking in his voice “how do you like puzzles?”
Seeing him alone I felt pity and decided to talk with the senior “Kind of. I’m better with word puzzles and things like that.”
With a small chuckle he replied “Funny accent you got there kid. Where you from?”
I am from South Dakota, and even within the Midwest I am often told that I have an accent. However, I being raised very closely with the idea of stranger danger, so I told him Fargo, North Dakota.
Out of his coat pocket he pulled out a brick of a red leather book with what looked like crosshairs emblazoned in black on the front. He set it on top of my now closed Island of the Blue Dolphins and said “Well, how ‘boucha take that back on up to North Dakota and try to solve it.” With that my strange visitor hobbled away.
Confused, I thumbed through the book. It was filled with strange symbols, which to this day give me trouble. I knew my mom would be enraged that I had talked to a stranger in the big city so I resolved to keep the whole thing to myself and hid the book in my back pack.
Truth be told I forgot about it for a couple months. I was a little obsessed with the Harry Potter series and engrossed with making progress, but after a while returned to the book. I had been reading up on cyphers for a while and was able to tell that it was some sort of code. Nevertheless, for a time my solving it was hopeless. However, it gave me a challenge and a chance to flex some mental muscle, something I am always seeking out. So I decided to try to learn the cypher. It was difficult, but not unsolvable like some of his other work.
After many years of cracking, tinkering, and toying I have realized that it belongs to a man known for his codes. The unfortunate part is you don’t know his name, and the journal doesn’t have it. Nonetheless, I can tell you confidently that, I possess the diary of the Zodiac Killer.
I don’t know how much a difference it will make, but having read the full contents I can tell you a lot of it is day to day living. Some of it is very interesting though. Those are the clips I’m sending you.
Hope this helps,
Jordan D.W. Smith

January 2, 1963
As can be plainly seen I have taken to writing in crypt. It’s one of the few things I can do to relieve some of the boredom I’ve had since returning from Korea. God, it’s been an awful ten years. I hear all kinds of punks who fought with me griping about how awful the war was and how they hated knowing every f*in’ day that their lives were in danger. They forget how interesting it was though.
The messages are where I took to making my own codes from. Hell of a lot of fun making messages under cover, real secret fashion, and sending them to other units. I gotta say I enjoyed hunting for the reds more. Sure most of them were just in that massive horde, but I got to go looking for the hiding ones. The hunt was fun, but not as fun as seeing their brains splatter all over. It’s unfortunate I couldn’t tell the docs that.
They’d of thought I was crazy and sent me back home so I couldn’t have fought any more. You hear in the papers about how it was all for the honor, or your family, or country, or some other bull like that. For me, and I’m sure others, it was plain and simple, the killing.
Lord, I miss all that. What can I do though? Whether I like it or not, that’s not legal here. Aint even legal back there now. If it was I swear I’d go and spend the rest of my life hunting. For now I reckon I’m stuck just working with these codes. However, I don’t know how long I can take this.
June 5, 1963
Well, last night was interesting, sure enough. I went into town for a drink or two, I decided to try a new bar, mix things up. Wish I could say I was luckier than I was. I still had a fine time there. Don’t remember all of what I drank but it was not too much. Not like we did back in Korea. I had a few laughs over pool with a couple of fellas there before headin’ out. On the way though I heard a couple a runts sayin crap about what we did overseas. I don’t fancy listening to them disrespect my brothers and me, and all the times we had. I saw ‘em making like they were going out of town so I followed them, trying to keep a distance of just enough that they couldn’t see me. It occurred to me that it felt mildly like I was back in Asia, tracking a detachment and hoping they wouldn’t notice.
The two little lovebirds drove quite a way out of town, I was following the glow of their distant tail lights. Eventually they stopped in the road. Deciding to give the two a little scare I made double sure all my lights were out and pulled up beside them. I opened the door and stepped out like a ghost. When I got to the driver’s window I realized why they hadn’t heard me. The two kids were just starting to get hot and heavy. With a small grin I pretended I couldn’t see inside and tapped on the window.
Well the boy wasn’t too pleased. Throwing his door open and pouncing out he looked into my eyes and gave my shoulder a small shove “Watcha think you’re doin’ bub?”
Trying to keep a cap on my old temper I followed my plan and told him all I wanted was some directions.
“Directions?” he barked “I’ve been trying to get the sweater off that floozy all night and was damn near doing it, and you broke it up to ask for directions. Good god, kill me now. You know how embarrassed she’s gonna be now? Aint no way I’m getting her undone tonight after that.”
I just wanted the episode to be done so I ran a hand through my hair and said “Would it ‘elp if a Korean serviceman apologized to her?”
“No bozo! It won’t,” he said this moving in towards me aggressively “His eye might though,” he growled pulling out a switchblade.
In that moment I had a small epiphany that I have had to since then consider. Acting in the spur of the moment I remembered my training as a frog man and disarmed him and quickly drew the pistol I always carry. That’s when the little man realized he couldn’t just shove me around. Before he could try anything else I had him staring down the barrel. When I looked in his eyes I saw the same look I saw in the Reds eyes and I realized killing him was the same as killing one of them. Humans are all just animals, and that bastard needed to learn the survival of the fittest. He was competition, and I decided to take him out. Savoring the last moment of terror in his eyes I pulled the trigger just as the realization of his own demise hit him I felt a rush of energy I haven’t felt in a long time. I swear it was like I had just done some opium back in Korea.
I heard a scream as his little hotsy totsy stepped stided from the car towards me. “Are you insane!” she howled “You killed him! You’re going to jail for this.”
Still calm and level I gazed at her saying, “Self-defense sweet cheeks. You’re little boy here’s the one at fault.”
“It’s called excessive force, I’ll have you know,” her voice was slowly going to an area between hysteria and shock “the cops will have you locked up in two shakes of lamb’s tail.”
Without thinking I shot her too. She was not only a witness, she was also correct. I didn’t feel guilt. It was all survival. Purely natural. That’s the way animals do it, so why can’t I? Humans are only animals anyway.
Since I pulled the trigger I really want to go hunting. I guess I should lay low for a while though. I don’t want the other officers putting the cuffs on me. Horribly awkward, and I wouldn’t have a chance of being able to continue anymore, then. We’ll see how well I can do that though.
August 18, 1963
I’ve been trying not to think about what happened, after the bar. It’s too much temptation. I can’t do it again, not with the sort of risk it makes me run. I adore the irony in the fact that I’m supposed to be the one stopping this.
Besides that it was a long day at work. They got me watching in on a couple greaser outfits that might be looking to fight. We’ll see where that goes.
November 2, 1966
Went hunting this weekend. Best time I’ve had since ’63 at least. Followed my target for a long ways, ‘fore I finally pulled the trigger. I’ve decided I can hunt, if I moderate it. I’ll have seasons. Might not be able to go every year, but that happens with hunters of other sorts too. I may not like it, but I’ll have to live with it.
December 23, 1968
There are some things you don’t realize how much you miss until you get back to it. Hunting is most certainly one of these things.
I got a couple of nice little lovebirds the other night. Don’t know why it seems to happen this way, me finding couples making out and ending the party, but I don’t mind. This one was a real hoot and holler though.
I told ‘em some guy was following me with a knife and his breath smelled like booze. The little boy thought he was real macho and went with me to “find the bastard” and beat some sense into him. Once we got to the trees though he found out I was the one with the gun. Well the girl panicked and sprinted to the tree line. I hid the gun and told her the killer had run off, said he must’ve ran out of bullets, but I may need help walking. The ditz bought the whole thing. I must give her credit for keeping a cool head. She came right over there and propped my arm up. She woulda made any Red Cross nurse jealous. Too bad she aint gonna be one. After enjoying the touch of such a pretty young thing for a few paces I twisted her to the ground like they taught us back in the service. I could tell by the look in her eye she thought I was gonna force my way on her. I might have enjoyed her touching me, but I’m not like that. So before she could scream I drew and shot. God it’s a rush. It isn’t enough though.
You see, the best part of Korea was the knowledge that I might be captured and killed at any moment. I’ve decided I want a bit of a game like that. So I sent a letter to the station and the Chronicle, a letter telling them I was the killer and tried to get across just how much fun it was. I told them my name was in it, but who is that dumb? I’m not going to take that chance. The Chronicle also got a message from me that I said was ciphered, but that was a load of s***. I just want to toy with them, see if anyone actually makes an effort to solve my whole confounded puzzle. There aint no solution though. Just a bunch of crap. I’m guessing they’ll send it to the station though. Hell, I might even work on it. That’d be a hoot, pretending to make an effort to crack it but really knowing there was nothing to solve. I could just read a book all day or listen to the radio, and they’d never even know. If they asked why I had made so little progress I could just tell ‘em that the other guys weren’t any further. And you can bet they wouldn’t be.
I’m beginning to really enjoy all of this. I hardly miss Korea anymore. It’s a great game for sure. And I can keep it going for as long as I want if I play my cards right.
July 2, 1969
The boys at the station are starting to catch up to me. Maybe they aren’t as dumb as they act. I’ve got a plan though. Next I hear of a murder I’ll send a letter to the Chronicle saying it was me. That ought to throw them off my trail for a while.
July 6, 1969
The plan worked great. They’re looking into the details of what happened to see how well the details of what I claimed align with the victim report. I know it’s flawless too. I read the whole damn thing myself, even wrote part of it while reading it. Here’s the best part, the moron let one of the people live. So she was able to give a description of what I supposedly look like. So now the boys are looking for someone who looks nothing like me. That part worked better than I could have planned. Looks like I’m good for awhile.
September 28, 1969
Well I was wrong to criticize that fella for letting one of them live. I did that the other night. I’ve come to realize that it’s not necessarily fortune that makes me run into couples for hunting. I just can’t stand the bitches. They just go about careless not knowing about how the world at large operates. At the ages I kill them they should have an idea what everything’s about. I’d venture to say that I might even be doing them a favor. Well maybe not the one that made it.
I thought she was going to bleed out, turns out I was wrong. I shoulda remembered to never even leave the chance that they’ll make it. I’d have been discharged for that in the Special Forces. I’ve gotten to cushy with the idea of the margin of error. Oh well at least the girl knows how things work now.
October 19, 1969


I might be in trouble. They’re starting to catch up to me. I went out to get a guy a while ago, and frankly I didn’t think too much of the whole deal. I did the job and left. I thought that would be the end of the story, not even important enough to write about. I found out this morning that I was dead wrong.
At the station I saw they had continued work on the message I sent, this one not just random symbols, as well as the last guy’s case. I’m used to seeing the boys chasing me like a wild goose at this point. Matter of fact I flippantly moseyed over and started chatting with them, looking at what they had done so far. I wasn’t worried until I saw the list of attributes they thought the killer has. They are getting close to me.
Suspicions of military history, disciplined shooting style, possible interests, they sure are more complex than they’re letting on. I’d put money on it that the only reason they haven’t questioned me yet is that I’m one of theirs. Why suspect another officer? I’m sure they’ll get there eventually, though. Either way I don’t think I can continue doing this much longer. I’ve loved this whole game, but like Korea ultimately my goal is to survive. I want to stay true to the game.
October 23, 1969
It has dawned on me that I have stockpiled a large amount of vacation time over the past few years. Also I have a fairly healthy bank account as a result of my frugal nature. I am considering a safari to Africa. I have always wanted to try their big game hunting. Maybe this can solve the problem of my brothers in blue becoming ever closer to the truth. I am weighing my options, however I hear the Upper Nile is lovely this time of year.
June 7, 1970
I’ve just returned from safari. Best two weeks of my life. Surprisingly good food, delightful scenery, and outstanding wildlife. I don’t regret opting for Southern Africa anymore. I was worried I would miss the larger populations of the Nile, but I’ve found that the South had the perfect amount. The hunting there can beat anything stateside.
I spent the majority of the time driving from village to village, only spending a day, maybe two in any place. I was delighted to discover I had wasted my money on the translation dictionaries. The majority of them spoke English which I thought was great. I hadn’t expected that from the negroes.
During the nights I would get to know the locals. The next day as they dispersed I would go hunting. Most of the time I followed them, though on one occasion I went with locals on a giraffe hunt. I can assure you it is not nearly as amusing prey. The most exciting day I had was when the villagers discovered what I did and actually chased me. God, with their guns firing after my GP I actually felt like I was back in Korea! I found other forms of entertainment with hunting though.
For instance I found it amusing to make it look like a lion or other large predator had killed the n*****. It only worked once, but it was interesting to experiment. Best though was the last effort I discovered. The way to do it is to convince one of the villages young girls to go for a ride. Then you screw her. Then is the best part. You scare her even worse so she runs like a chicken with its head cut off. After that you just chase her down, maybe give her a last kiss, then kill her. I couldn’t do that back home because the screaming attracts too much attention, also with how close everything is there is the real danger that she would reach someone. It’s the same as just killing them. It’s all natural. That’s the way animals do things. Hell, some animals kill immediately after mating! More than the brats back here I’m doing those ones a favor. They ain't got enough food, clothing, or shelter. Also gotta live in fear of being killed at all times.
Anyway I’m starting to see the benefits of being a bachelor. I should be able to afford a trip like this every year, maybe not to Africa, but to uncivilized parts of South America should work. Maybe next year I’ll go to Brazil.
Regardless I've continued to send letters out of play to the Chronicle. It's much too fun not to.
September 30, 1970
I gave in. I hunted. It wasn’t my usual style, it was outstanding results though.
I ventured out with no intent of hunting. I just wanted to get a couple drinks. I wasn't even drunk when it all happened. Wish I woulda been, then at least I could justify it. I reckon everything is working out though.
So like I said I started out going to the bar. It had been a long day at the station, and I decided a couple of Miller’s wouldn’t hurt. Right after I got into the bar I saw her. She was sitting somberly off in the corner. Something told me to go sit by her. I slid down the booth’s bench to sit by her. Being the gentleman that I am, I introduced myself. She told me she was named Donna. So after getting a few drinks into her (why the f*** didn’t I drink too?) I had sweet talked her into coming home with me.
While we were undressing it dawned on me I could kill her. A new style of hunting, making my prey come to me. She unknowingly changed my mind though. Evidently she was doing some of that LSD stuff and I started getting her life story. She started telling me about how when she was a little ‘un her father wasn’t too kind to her. Knocked her around and all that junk. I started to realize something though. I couldn’t kill her. She wasn’t like the ones that I did. She has a knowledge of the way things work in the world so she’s not like the ones in America, but she also has the potential to have some happiness in her future, so she’s not like the one’s in Africa. I couldn’t do it.
All that happened a few days ago and she’s still here. I’m not sure, but I think I’ll let her stay. We’ll see how the chips fall. I may be the first hunter to capture a human.
August 20, 1970
I’m starting to feel the boys bring the heat on me. Not for the stiffs, but Donna. She hasn’t gone home still, she doesn’t want to, and I’m loving having her here. The Lass’ may have beat the hell out of their daughter, but they sure are set on finding her. Turns out they’re a couple rich broads with friends toward the top of the station and they are throwing money at finding her too.
I don’t know what to do. I sure as hell can’t hunt locally no more. Not only does Donna still not know about that, but it would attract too much attention. I think I need to get out. Start something new with Donna hiding somewhere. Maybe somewhere further south. I’m gonna start making calls and looking San Diego.

Over the following thirty years there is a great deal more content, but nothing of too much significance. He takes a few more trips to kill people abroad, in places such as South America, one more round through Africa, and discovers a love of the South Pacific. Donna never seems to learn of his clandestine hobbies; and perhaps as a result he and Donna evidently live together happily. The major point of significance though is I might have a cause for him to have given me his diary. A couple years before that he began developing lung cancer. That is the one thing I can tell you that might narrow who he is down, in all that writing he never said his name. I guess there’s probably a fair amount of old men with lung cancer in San Diego. As far I can tell he just wants people to hear what he has to say. I’m going to give you a few weeks to look this over. After that this is getting sent to news agencies all over the state of California and possibly the country. This very well might be his death wish. I’ll try and honor it. -JS





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