The best part about choosing a victim... well, for me, it’s the little things.
Seeing what they do for fun, that’s always eye-opening. This one, my next, he was a strange man. He normally went from his job as a university attorney to his home, where he would beat his wife and son and then go to sleep.
He had only one minor deviation in his schedule. Every week or so, on a Saturday, he would stop off at the college library to drop off and pick up a book. A legal thriller. They were always legal thrillers.
Legal thrillers and crime fiction... bah. The authors writing that stuff don’t know what it’s like, or they would write it different. They don’t know the pleasure of driving a knife into someone’s hand as they cry for mercy, the pleasure of seeing the blood bubble on their lips when their throat is cut.
The pleasure of all the screams: the screaming drowns out the thing that drives me mad. It drives away the shadow.
Yes, I’m sanest when I kill.
Usually, the men I kill are the ones who make sure their own misdeeds go unseen. When they beat their wives, they hit them in the stomach. They would never leave a mark, or society would know.
I don’t mind leaving marks. Nobody will see their bodies, anyway. They’re cowards, all of them, cowards and bullies that will disappear without a trace.
I climb the library staircase to the second floor, where the genre fiction is kept, thinking about how I will do it even as I watch him climb the stairs above me. His legs move like puppet legs, wooden and mechanical up the steps. Inhuman.
I’ll follow him to his car, I think. Then the syringe, the catch.
Then the kill.
It was a beautiful spring day in California. The arboretum glowed with dappled sunlight and college students wandered lazily through the green paths, enjoying a weekend off from class. In the native sagebrush, orange butterflies danced in the air, and above us, oak leaves glittered silver in the breeze.
I couldn’t have cared less.
“Will you hurry up, Jules, please?”
“Kat, you have got to be the most boring person I know. Stop and smell the roses! And by that, I mean there’s a super cute guy over there painting in the rose garden.” Jules tilted her head to one side, her purple-tinted bangs falling over her face. “An artistic guy. I like that.”
“We don’t have time for guys. We’re already late!”
I was shuffling quickly through the arboretum, dragging my coworker behind me through the gardens. All around us, college students wandered lazily around in pairs and groups. A dozen sorority girls had put out a blanket so they could work on their tans on the grassy lawn, and every guy who walked past slowed to half-time to gaze at the rainbow of bikini bottoms covering skinny tan asses. I shoved my way past the ogling meatheads.
“We’re only, like, ten minutes late,” Jules said, sighing as I yanked her out of the sunny arboretum and through the library doors. We hustled past the front counter to the back, where I grabbed a cart quickly and pretended that I had already started shelving.
“You’re so lucky Sheryl is late.” Our boss was, as Jules put it, more sadistic than Disney’s Ursula and less forgiving than Inspector Javert.
“Lucky, nothing. I knew she would be late. You want to skip back out to the arboretum and check out that artsy guy?” Jules gave an exaggerated wink.
“You’re never going to find a date with that attitude.”
“I date plenty of guys.”
“Sure, Kat. Right.”
“I do!” My cheeks flushed as I pushed the library cart full of books to the elevator. Jules followed me, flipping through one of the books that we’d just gotten in.
“Since when do you read romance novels, anyway?” I asked, hoping to change the subject.
“Ugh, never,” Jules said, tossing the book back onto the cart. “Such boring protagonists. The same old plot. Romantic heroes doing romantic gestures. Maybe you should read one, though.”
Ha. There was nothing in those bosom-heaving books I found sexy. I would never admit it out loud, but even the new “racier” stuff didn’t do much for me. I wanted a hero who would push me to the edge of insanity, a man who would make me feel.
“Why would I read, uh, The Rogue’s Hidden Past?” I asked.
“Let’s see,” Jules said, pointing to the back cover. “To find out his terrible, dark secret.”
“I bet it has something to do with kilts. Do you see this cover?”
“Those are some sexy manlegs. Manlegs that could be wrapped around your waist.”
“You know why you should read this, Kat? You should read it because it might get you in the mood for some sexing.”