I read people so well, I know their emotions before they even do. Those who are happy are whom I choose to spend my time with. There is one woman, she is there, yet she isn't. She seems to smile at all of the right times, she seems to laugh at jokes, she seems sad when something terrible happens; yet, she just isn't there. She doesn't have those feelings and I know it is all fake. Our group is small, she spends every day with us, she does what we do, follows the latest trends, she doesn't miss a beat.
From time to time, she is gone. Our group assumes there is a secret lover, just someone she doesn't want us to meet. The group doesn't pester, but they do tease about the secret lover. Then, she is gone again.
After a night away from the group, I come home and look in the mirror. Blood covering my face and clothes. I look in the mirror and I see her. The woman, the one who has no emotions. The woman who fakes it every day with her group. I see the woman I am looking back at me after yet another ruthless kill.
I would never have married you if I had known that you were a serial killer.
I began to notice little things that concerned me the first month we were married. You were narcissistic, always primping in the mirrors on the wall as you passed. I noticed that you never paid any attention to me because you could only focus on yourself.
I always wondered why you disappeared for periods of time just before the newspaper headlined new rape-murders. Your excuses were vague but you really didn’t care what I thought about your absences. I found explicit, sadistic porn magazines hidden in the garage but you said the previous house owner must have left them.
I hate to admit that I began to use your proclivities to my own advantage. If my boss lady made me stay late, all I had to do was mention it to you and her body would be found the next morning. If someone spread nasty gossip about me, you would take care of her. It’s not that this bothered you that much – it was just that it provided new targets for you. You always felt so powerful and strong when you accomplished a new murder. You never mentioned it, but I knew you were the killer.
I hate to admit it but I became enamored of your proficiency and decided to take a stab at it, if you get my drift! That night while you were sleeping, I plunged my favorite butcher knife into your devious heart. You can’t imagine how excited I became as I watched blood seep out of your body. After getting rid of your body, I decided to take over your job and I was very, very good at it! After all, I studied at the hands of a master!
I was at a rather impressionable age; that awkward, gawky stage between child and woman. A friendless creature despised and disparaged by those who owed me nothing as well as she who gave me life and little else. Every day I desperately prayed for that promised metamorphosis from ugly duckling, scorned and shunned, to beautiful swan, respected and adored. From cowering to towering. From fearful to feared.
Yes, most definitely that: Feared.
I was in the bathroom, trying to wash away mud, blood, snot and tears along with the invisible but ever present feelings of loneliness, anger, self-loathing...and a healthy dose of hatred aimed at those who made my life a veritable nightmare. After I wiped my face with industrial paper towel, I looked in the mirror and there she was.
“Don’t let them get to you,” she said.
I snorted. Easy for her to say. She didn’t have to deal with the abhorrent wildlings that were my classmates. Or my mother.
“Seriously,” she replied to my wordless response, “You are a diamond. They are not even coal. They are dust beneath your feet.”
“Who are you?”
“Alyssa. And you are Melissa.”
Eveyone knew the social reject. I sighed. “I haven’t seen you around, Alyssa. Are you a transfer?”
She smiled. “No. I’ve seen you. I’ve been watching you.”
“Okaaaay....that’s not weird. Why?”
“Between school and home, your life, in a word, sucks. After that fiasco in the school yard today, I thought you could use a friend.”
Truer words were never spoken.
We became inseparable. I rarely saw her during the day except in the rest room or when she made faces at me from the door of my classroom. But after school, she was always waiting for me ouside the school to walk home with me. To talk. To listen.
I never invited her inside my house. I wasn’t allowed to have friends over. It had never mattered because I had never had any. It still didn’t. I preferred that not even my best friend see my mother come after me. Or strung out on the couch. Or, worse, hear the screams from her room - lust- or pain-filled, depending on who was with her and how much they paid. Or didn’t.
But Alyssa didn’t let even me stop her. Many times, she would climb through my bedroom window. Usually, just when I needed her most.
One night, after a particularly bad altercation -- verbally and physically -- with my mother, she was in my room when I ran in crying. She held me as I wept and whispered, “Let go, my sweet girl. I’m not going anywhere ”
The next morning, my mother was found with a needle still in her arm.
The death certificate would say accidental overdose.
I called 911. Police, medics and a social worker arrived very soon thereafter.
“What’s your name, little lady?”
“Alyssa,” I replied.
Butchering in Whitechapel-
That day back then, I didn't tremble. I didn't cry. The carved up body of a prostitute didn't scare me. It inspired me. "Whitechapel Murderer!" all the pages screamed in those days. I wonder what happened to the man. "Jack the Ripper". He was a pleasent fellow in my opinion, we often chattered to each other in the mornings, and my daily conversations with him took my mind off of the rats scurrying past the hem of my dress. And even after I saw him murdering her that one night, soft glow of a streetlamp making the blood glisten, I made small talk the next day. It was different though. Admiration formed a haze in my head when I saw him. No, not fear as any self respecting woman would be filled with. Because that night, I realised, I was not self respecting. As I lay in bed after the event... I smiled. And I slept contently. And I made a descision that I wanted to do the same. Butcher the women as if they were cows, their meat only for my pleasure.
I never said a word to the man about his hobby. I think he knew I saw him that night anyway, as he plunged the knife into her. He trusted me not to tell. And I haven't. I don't plan to either. I want the Whitechapel Murderer to be locked in history, known for many many years to come. And I would like the same for myself. I want my thirteen butcherings to be known someday, for generations to come. I want them to know about the puddles of blood on the ground, pooling around my victims. I want them to know about the terrified looks on thier faces as they died. I want them to know that there is someone out there that could take your life.
I saw him, waiting for me. He knew he would get me like he's gotten all the rest. Strangely enough, I invited him. I held out my hand to him, grabbed him, lit him up, and inhaled deeply.
"The Counter across the counter. So sure to remain just out of arms reach. How many times now is it? I forget. Has it been my pleasure to teach. Your kind? Why no reminder is too many. And to spare no friend this innocuous speech?
Unless it is one’s wish to enjoy the beach on your own?
I ask you two. Saintly sinners. Having spent decades discerning my true desires. Only to cancel each other out on my shoulders. To remind me. Being witness to each. And everything. Including all I’ve managed to keep secret but?
"Crickets" or your "Clicker" is all I hear.
Are we clear? I beseech you to feel. As I. You indifferent ambiguous judge. Clicking continuously not uncommonly. You never told me how it makes you feel infuriating me so. Your Counter culture. I’ve held so many like you in my arms. My calming nature slowing the pace of the pulse. Until no clicks of note denoting anything to speak of remain. I’ll take the lives with little left. Or the ones living life to the fullest. If you’ll let me.
Reach out your hand. Join my outreach program."
His name was Michael and he was one of my best friends growing up, despite the fact that he always was a bit high strung with a short attention span. In fourth grade he created a flood in Mrs. Clark’s classroom by accident. He tapped on the fish tank a bit too hard and the glass broke. In an instant all ten gallons of water and goldfish dumped onto the floor. Someone was sent to fetch the janitor and we had to move our desks out of the way. He didn’t mean to do it, but Michael had a pair of sharp scissors in his hand as he moved his desk. As I walked past I felt a sting, then looked down to see blood, lots of blood. His scissors had pierced the back of my hand. So while the beleaguered teacher was having to rescue fish flopping on the floor and prevent more flood damage, I was sent to the school nurse for a butterfly closure and gauze.
My parents moved that summer and I changed schools, so I didn’t expect to keep in touch with Michael; it was rare for boys to do that anyway. But then I did see Micheal again. On a July afternoon my father had entrusted me with his Buick and sent me to get an oil change. As I pulled into the service bay I recognized the young man immediately, it was him. His eyes lit up as he asked me how things were going. I explained that I was going away for college in several weeks. In turn I asked him how things were going.
“Not so good,” he said, looking down, “I have to report to prison in a month, I was convicted and sentenced for…” his voice trailed off. ”You can read about it in the paper”.
“Wow, I don’t know what to say,” I said. I was shocked. Here I was bragging about college while he was going to prison.
He leaned into the car window as if to tell me a secret. His voice changed, as if he became someone else.
“I know this was a long time ago, but how is your hand? That must have hurt a LOT. But I did rather enjoy it.”
He laughed to himself then disappeared under the car to change the oil.
A Welcome Change
You know, I’ve heard a few times that you tend to attract the things you spend the most time thinking about. If you think about how much debt you’re in, it’s all you end up seeing. Think too much about something like the Mandela Effect and you’ll keep finding new ways to prove that it exists.
Some people refer to it as manifesting, some people refer to it as coincidence. I like to think of it as a happy accident.
And it might be how I met Jerry.
I was dying to get into a new relationship. Jerry was another face in the crowd, but when he rear-ended my car during rush hour traffic, we ended up exchanging numbers along with insurance information. It might not have been the best meet-cute, but it did lead to a coffee date. The coffee date led to an evening at the bar, which led to me staying the night at his house, which led to him waking me up the next morning to eggs and toast. We officially started dating after about a week. It was such a welcome change in my life.
Getting rear-ended was totally worth it.
After a few months, something seemed… off. I didn’t really put too much thought into it – maybe Jerry was having a bad day? His workload had been increased, without a pay raise to match, and our rent had just gone up at the same time. It makes sense that he’d be a bit tense until we know we can keep everything working smoothly. I picked up a couple of freelance gigs to help make ends meet in the meantime.
“Hey, babe, I’m going to be staying late at the office today,” Jerry said over the phone. “My manager has a deadline to meet, and I offered to help her out. Is that all right?”
“Of course,” I chimed back. “Thanks for letting me know.”
“Yeah. Love you, Lace.”
“Love you too!” I said, hitting the “End Call” button through the latex gloves I wore. Suds of soapy water and chemicals coated the kitchen counter. I still had a lot of cleaning to do.
Jerry was out almost until midnight that day. I didn’t mind, since that gave me plenty of time to make sure the house was spotless by the time he got back.
“Hey, love,” he said with a sigh when he stepped through the doorway, dropping his keys on the table nearby. He looked thoroughly wiped out.
“Hi,” I replied, planting a quick kiss on his mouth. He smelled like fresh soap, and maybe aftershave. “Welcome back.”
“Did anything interesting happen today?”
“Oh, yeah,” I said, opening the closet door so that he could put his coat away. “I finished up one of my side gigs. It went through without a hitch!”
“Nice. Wish I could say the same.” He chuckled, rubbing a hand on the back of his neck. “If I have to look at any more spreadsheets tonight, I’ll…” He stopped, peering into the coat closet.
“Something wrong?” I asked.
He squinted and shook his head, like he was trying to get rid of a pesky thought. “It’s nothing.” He hung up his coat without saying anything else, then closed the door.
I forced a quick smile, telling him that there was a tub of ice cream for him in the freezer. He chuckled again and walked towards the kitchen, eager to escape to the bottom of the tub.
A sigh of relief escaped my mouth. I’d forgotten to clean the closet.
After a few more weeks, we’d settled into our new routine. Jerry’s manager had retired, and the new one gave him a nice pay raise. When he heard the news, he called me to let me know.
“That’s excellent!” I said, cradling my phone between my cheek and my shoulder, typing away at my laptop. “I’m really proud of you.”
“I’m just excited to have a savings account again.” He took a deep breath, then exhaled, blowing static into the phone receiver. “I’m going to have to take another late night today, though. Hopefully only an hour or two.”
I frowned, looking away from the computer screen. That was the third time this week he’d had to stay late. Sure, it was nice to have a little time to myself, but I still wanted time with him, too.
“Is that all right?” he asked after a few seconds of my silence.
“Y-Yeah, it’s fine.”
“I’m sorry, love,” he crooned. “Once this next paycheck comes through, I won’t have to do these late nights anymore.”
“That sounds nice.”
“It will be.” I could hear his smile in his voice. “I’ll see you tonight, okay?”
“Okay. Hurry home,” I said, glancing down at the stained shirt I was wearing. Better change it before he gets back.
I met with my parents for a late lunch a few days later, then spent some time wandering the city and scoping things out. There were several new studio apartments along this street, with huge windows letting everyone see in. I tutted under my breath. No way would I ever be that comfortable with so little privacy.
It made my job so much harder.
This was the last freelance gig I had agreed to for now, so I was looking forward to getting it wrapped up quickly. It was a little different from the others – I had been able to lure them back to my place and take care of them there, but this one would be in his own apartment.
My client wanted him gone. He knew too many secrets and had too little money. The client would spare no expense in making sure he could be eliminated in a way that wouldn’t trace back to them.
I tried looking on the bright side of doing the job this way. Maybe I wouldn’t have to put so much careful thought into cleaning up afterwards. I’d still be careful, of course. But I’d been careless enough to leave parts of my own house still smelling like blood, and it would only be a matter of time before Jerry put the pieces together.
I hoisted my bag more securely onto my shoulder, breathing out a sharp sigh, and stepped out onto the crosswalk to get to the building complex.
The screeching of tires snapped me back to reality. Cars skidded to a halt, swerving to avoid crashing directly into me in my distracted state.
“Sorry!” I called out, holding out my hands and backing right back onto the sidewalk. “So sorry!”
Car horns blared and several drivers scowled my way. One of them hollered out a distant “Watch where you’re going!” and I ducked further back. The back door of a taxi popped open, and a guy stepped out, looking in my direction.
I didn’t have time for this. The target had an expiration date, and I was about to miss it.
Turning on my heel, I started speedwalking to a different crosswalk, hoping to get lost in the bustle of the other pedestrians. It didn’t work, though, and the guy from the taxi clapped a hand firmly on my shoulder.
“Lace, are you okay? What are you doing here?”
I whipped around to see Jerry, a concerned look in his eye but anger in his grip.
“I’m fine,” I replied, brushing his hand away and not answering his other question. Why did he have to show up now, when I’m about to get started on my job?
“Why are you here, Lace?” he repeated, stepping closer.
This was weird. He didn’t usually care this much about where I am. We basically trust each other with everything – except, of course, the murder side gigs I took on to make ends meet. That part tends to be a bit of a red flag.
“Well… why are you here?” I retorted, gripping the strap of my bag. He looked away, rubbing the back of his neck. “You should be at work right now. What gives?”
“Okay, I needed to travel for a specific job, all right?” He sounded sharp, angry, and this might actually be the first time I had heard that edge in his voice. “It’s no big deal.”
“Where are you headed?”
“I could ask you the same.”
I tilted my head in the direction of the target’s apartment. “Right over there. I’m meeting up with… a work client.”
Jerry blinked, looking at me with an almost blank expression. “Are you going to room 201?”
As a matter of fact, I was. How could he know?
My facial expression must’ve given him his answer. He shook his head, softly grabbing my arm above the elbow and maneuvering us so that we were going towards the building. “That’s where I’m headed, too,” he murmured into my ear as we walked. “Don’t worry, we’ll work this out.”
I couldn’t figure out how to put words into a coherent sentence. What was he saying? Why is he going to the same room in the same building as me? What’s happening here?
It was a tense elevator ride, punctuated only by our breathing and the series of questions in my mind. When the doors slid open, Jerry walked right to the apartment in question and slid an inconspicuous key into the handle, turning it to open the door. With a knowing look in his eye, he gestured for me to walk in. His next few words made all my questions click into place.
“Let’s get to work.”
I’ve heard a few times that you tend to attract the things you spend the most time thinking about. If you think about how much debt you’re in, it’s all you end up seeing. Think too much about something like the Mandela Effect and you’ll keep finding new ways to prove that it exists.
I spent a lot of time thinking about killing, and it might be the reason I ended up finding and marrying a killer.
Brush With A Killer
I remember seeing someone out of the corner of my eye as I raced by, pressed for time, and normally I ignore the people I rush by, whisked up as I am in the whirlwind that is my life. However, passing this one gentleman a coldness crept over me, like the feeling you get when you suddenly realize the neighbor's Rottweiler has freed itself from its leash, and is creeping slowly but surely in your direction.
As I result my eyes briefly found his and I viewed, in a mere moment's time, the face of a man without any noticeable traits. I was struck by the impression that he had most likely never, ever blinked.
Then the moment passed and I raced into the fruits and vegetables section to pick up some artichoke hearts. I had already forgotten about him standing in line at the meat counter, as I was busy choosing which pig's nose and which organs I would buy for the barbecue that night.
Little did I suspect, however, that as I turned the next corner to look for my fruit leathers I found myself in the breakfast aisle and was greeted with the most shocking image my eyes had ever witnessed away from a TV screen. The man I had just brushed passed, the cold man, the one who never blinked, had created a virtual bloodbath with the store's supply of Count Chocula.
He drove a 24-inch hunting knife deep into another box, ripped it through the carton's innards, yanked out the blade and licked it in almost theatrical rapture. Again and again he stabbed, prodded, and ripped at those Count Chocula boxes, and when those were all shredded ruins he turned his unblinking gaze to the cartons of Boo Berry, which almost seemed to shiver in fear.
I turned and ran off, squealing like a banshee, leaving my shopping cart and barging through the emergency exit door. I did not stop running until I heard sirens, whereupon I collapsed in a heap and began sobbing, nearly in shock at the carnage I had witnessed. All I could see in my mind's eye was my late mother, opening her arms to me, behind her the sunlght, her skirts flapping in the summer breeze, a warm smile beaming across her face.
I ran to her, then all was black.
A Bored Evening Spent Well.
The notes of each lyric strung into me like a sword. I had been listening to music for about 30 minutes and it was starting provoke me. I had the same routine each day: Go to school, come home, do more work and be horrifcally bored. Left with nothing to do, I decided to go for a simple walk. I had watched Twilight earlier so Edward's beautiful face was still wandering around in my brain. The thought of vampires was also mixed into the breeze somewhere.
As I locked my front door, I noticed the sun had started to settle. Not too dark, not too light. Perfect. I had been walking for a while, enjoying the sweet wind, when I got a lurching feeling. I turned a corner and checked behind me to see him still following. Turned another hoping to God he would stop but he didn't. I stopped and faced his direction yelling, "Leave me alone asshole!"
"I'm sorry if I made you uncomfortable but you dropped this and I just wanted to return it but you were walking so fast.... I didn't know if I should run or something." He answered reaching his hand out with my keys.
"I am so sorry. Thank you so much for this." I uttered completely embarrased.
As I reached for my keys, I noticed a small, red spatter on his hand. Maybe he's a painter. I grabbed my keys and thanked him once again. We were standing infront of a little cafe, which was pretty empty so we took a seat outside. The little T.V on the wall was muttering on and on about some killer on the loose.
My heart rate sped up.
"It's getting late, I should get home. Nice to meet you and thank you again for the keys."
"We just sat down darling, why don't we talk a little?" He stated with a smirk.
Sonething seemed so off and the little red spatter on his hand seemed to feel like it wasn't just paint. He noticed me staring at it and mumbled,
"I see you've noticed the little red mark. What do you think it is?"
"Paint?" I answered ready to start running.
"Spot on love. It is paint. In fact, it is a very rare paint and I believe you have some with you or in you as I should say."
The little spatter in his dark eyes turned to something dark and twisted and suddenly they were red.
I should have just stayed home.