“Do you know where cyanide can be found?”
That was how the letter began. No fingerprints on it, no hair follicles. It was typewriter-written, ink slightly blotchy - but that was to be expected for old technology. The important thing was that it hadn’t been typed on a computer, or printed. It had shown up on the desk of the chief of police this morning, already pressed neatly into a clear plastic evidence bag. Strange.
“It’s easy to procure, really. Startlingly so. Just crush up enough stonefruit pits, or apple seeds - even almonds, though those are meant to be chewed. I was certainly surprised, and that’s one of my big motivators. Of course for the sake of covering all of my bases I won’t tell you from which source I derived mine.
“As I’m sure you’ve guessed, I’m confessing to murder. Serial, in fact. Lovely title - I’ll confess to something else, and that’s that I had a little celebration once I earned it officially. And no, this isn’t an elaborate prank. A real serial murderer, in 2020! Hard to do, I’d think.
“Back on the topic of cyanide, that’s what I used to commit my murders. Without looking too carefully at the obituaries in the paper, I’d assume most or all of my victims have been marked down as accidental deaths. Carbon monoxide poisoning, perhaps? Cyanide, you see, has a very short half-life - within a number of hours, it’s impossible to detect in a postmortem evaluation. Fascinating, isn’t it?
“The victims don’t follow a specific profile. Of course not! That’s idiocy, in my opinion. No, they’re - rather, they were - just random people who happened to, I don’t know, turn their back on a hot drink in a public space, or something of the sort. And of course their locations share only the fact that they’re busy places. My only consistent habit is the use of that one specific poison. And I rarely stay to watch them die, as it’s a quick-acting substance and I’d rather distance myself. You know how it is.
“As to motivation: I simply find it entertaining to snuff out lives. I think each life contains the universe, or one unique view of it. Ending a universe! Now that’s real power! At least, if you ask me.
“Anyway, all this is to say that I’m here, I’m quite devoid of remorse, and I will be continuing to conduct my little philosophical experiments. Catch me if you can, though I doubt you’ll be able to. Sincerely (and I do mean that),
It was an interesting letter, to say the very least. More interesting were the circumstances of its arrival on the desk this morning. The thing was - it had simply been carried in. That was all. A casual delivery, totally immemorable.
After all, who among the city's self-proclaimed finest would ever suspect one of their own?
I am not a deity - not properly. I am the sense you have, the feeling or intuition, that alerts you to potential danger. I am the very knowledge that something is wrong.
When you look at something seemingly innocent and the hair on the back of your neck stands up, that's me. When the air around you hums with inarticulate hostility, that's me. When your breath comes quick and shallow, when the air itself isn't enough to calm your racing heart, it's because my hands are tight around your lungs.
People are always saying that life is like wine - it gets better and better with age. Wrong. Life? Life is milk. Chances are you didn’t really start out expecting it, or wanting it particularly. And as it ages it gets less and less appealing. It sours and curdles. And you’re left wondering why you took the glass in the first place, when you could’ve just had water or something.
You know, I’m pretty open about my issues on the whole. OCD, SAD, GAD. Anxiety up the ass. What I don’t like to talk about much is the intrusive thoughts. Often, for no reason, these little voices pop into my head telling me things. Sometimes ordinary obsessions: “You’re not good enough, you’re ugly, you’re fat, everyone hates you and they’re right to, why are you even here anyway.” I can deal with these. Then there are the less-pleasant ideas, thoughts of murdering people or killing myself, carving pictures into flesh and hearing the sick gurgle of a slit throat. Once, sitting in the passenger seat on my way back from the city at night, a first-person video flashed behind my eyelids of reaching over and wrapping my hands around my mom’s throat - the fear and betrayal in her eyes, her spasming hands jerking the steering wheel over to the left, a kaleidoscope of neon signs and taillights blurring in my vision as we crash into the concrete at the side of the highway. She’s dead on impact, but I last until we spin and collide with another car. Funny, isn’t it? My therapist doesn’t think so. Not that killing my mom is funny, but it cracks me up that I can’t stop this from happening, since it stems from a neurological disorder. I guess that’s my secret. I’ve never told anybody and I probably never will again.
You know it's her from the moment you see her. Standing at the side of the road in the dark, car stopped with a flat tire, all alone. Pale blonde hair - she nearly glows in the moonlight. She's the one. She's perfect. You pull up alongside her; she looks nervous, because she's all alone at night and you're approaching her, but you wish she would be happy to see you, even if you're strangers. You wish she would smile.
"Need a ride?" You make your tone light, your face friendly.
She hesitates. "Uh, yeah, sure. Just to the gas station, if that's okay." Her hair is parted just off to the left, long and stick straight, just perfect. Her eyes are hazel. Her voice sends a shiver down your spine. She must have been made just for you, wished into existence at the side of the road like this. Yes, she must be yours.
The gas station is lit up with neon signs, purple and red. You glance over at your passenger seat - she has her hands folded on her lap, clutching her brown leather purse. She's wearing a long-sleeved grey dress. Carefully, you flip a switch on your door panel, locking the truck doors.
"This is me," she announces as you get closer to the gas station. A hand moves to her seatbelt, ready to unbuckle it. She still doesn't trust you. You frown. "Hey, uh, you missed the gas station." There's an edge to her voice.
"Don't worry," you say. "We're almost there." Another chill on your spine, talking about 'we'. Yes, she's perfect. You're perfect. She'll know that, now.
There's a wallet-sized photo clipped to your sun visor, which you haven't bothered to put back up since daytime. It's a picture of her. It hurts you and excites you to look at, and sometimes it even distracts you from keeping your eyes on the road. Not now, though. She never gave you a chance before, said you were creepy, said she had other plans. She wouldn't smile at you, not even when you tried to make her. You pull up at last to your destination - your date, if you will. It's an abandoned warehouse. A movie-worthy setting. You can practically feel how tense she is. She shouldn't be tense. She should be smiling. "Gas is cheaper here," you say, stopping the vehicle.
Getting out of the truck, you walk around to the trunk. Getting what you need is easy despite the dark: a fake-leather makeup case, you could find it with your eyes closed. Muscle memory is a funny thing. You chuckle quietly to yourself. She's still sitting in the passenger seat. You open the door for her with a flourish and she steps gingerly onto the ground. You do wish she wasn't so nervous.
You open the door for her again on the way inside. The building is empty, of course - you don't like to trick her, but she wouldn't have come. Just like her. You flip the lightswitch. She stops short as you lock the door behind you. "Hey, there's nothing in here." She turns around, tries to push past you, but you're stronger than she is. "Let me out!"
"The door's locked," you inform her, even though she's already trying frantically to twist the doorknob. You unzip the makeup case, take out a roll of duct tape. Tape her wrists behind her. Muscle memory. She screams. Another chill, that first scream. Every time. You tape her to a concrete pillar so she won't move so much. You tape her legs together. That was the thing about her. You didn't want sex, not really, even if that was what she thought you wanted. What you wanted - what you needed - was to make her smile. To make her smile.
You set the case down on the ground in front of her, tuning out her screams just for a moment to focus. She'll stop screaming eventually, and you don't want to miss it while it lasts. That was the mistake you made with her. You line up your tools with precision. There are three knives, all different sizes, next to a little digital camera. And then - one, two, three, four tubes of lipstick, each a different shade of red. You arrange them in a triangle, your favourite at the top. It's the closest to hers.
You take out the littlest knife first, tilting it back and forth in the fluorescent light. She stops screaming for just a second, breathing heavily. You're sure, though you aren't looking yet, that she's watching the blade, wondering what you're going to do with her. You step up close to her face, looking into her perfect eyes. Really, you think to yourself, sighing contentedly, the only problem with her face is her expression. You want her to smile. You need her to smile. "Smile, sweetheart." Your tone is gentle, you know it is. You've practiced in the mirror. But she doesn't listen. She doesn't give you a chance. So you take her chin in your hand, holding her head still, and you slide your knife into the side of her mouth. You push the blade up, gently, gently. A thin line of blood trickles down her chin. She whimpers. That makes you angry, whimpering and bleeding like that when you're going to so much trouble for her.
You need her to smile.
You need her to smile.
So you make her smile.
The girl in the mirror is afraid. That's what her eyes tell me, anyway, as I watch them through my own. Paranoid, maybe. Anxious. Hunched over a computer, fingers making clacking noises on the keys, chipped blue nail paint and a shiny silver good-luck ring. Even I can't find any expression on her face, but that's maybe because she isn't feeling anything particularly. She's actually thinking about hair dye. But somewhere near the far back of her eyes, where the blue fades into grey, there's still that touch of fear. Further still, behind the mirror, in her mind, she's counting. Making sure no movement hits a bad number, keeping track of steps and words and conversations. Shuffling through facts and memories, years and statistics, gears turning and wheels spinning. And of course, whether or not she should dye her hair. But would that bright red she likes look good with her skin tone? The girl in the mirror is afraid.
Squeak. The sound originates at the very back of my throat, on the left side. Too far left. Squeak. Again. Right side. Not far enough. Squeak. Squeak. I've overdone it now - too much noise at the back and I'm still not balanced. I must maintain balance, symmetry, order. Perfection. A throbbing pain erupts in my throat as I rub it raw with my noise. Squeak. When everything feels okay again, then I can stop. I'm so close. So close to perfection. Squeak.
Two Quotes, Just To Be Difficult (and also in order to hit the word count).
"Life is short. So is Wolverine."
- The T-shirt of Quintavius Quirinius Quire, Wolverine and the X-Men.
"If I had a nickname, I think I would want it to be 'Prince of Weasels', because then I could go up and bite people and they would turn around and go, 'What the - ' And then they would recognize me, and go, 'Oh, it's you, the Prince of Weasels.'"
- Jack Handy, Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey
I've taken the Meyers-Briggs test at least three times - and gotten a different answer each time. INTJ-T, INTJ-A, and, most recently, ENTJ-A: Extroverted, iNtuitive, Thinking, Judging. I'm only 54% extroverted, so you'll never see me behave like a typical extroverted and talk to people... unless it benefits my dastardly plots. I like to think that ENTJ really stands for Evil, Nasty, Terrifying, Just the worst! Not really. The secret of the ENTJ is that we're really just so out of touch with our emotions that we break down whenever we feel any.