The last dregs of adrenaline are just starting to wear off. My heart is slowing down from its elevated staccato as I inhale. I place the pill bottle back onto a dusty mahogany shelf, already overwhelmed with packets and pill bottles. I exhale the rush of accomplishing my task correctly. So many years of labour, to get to this stage.
I eye the microphone dials as I light a Marlboro between my yellow teeth. I was vying for that nicotine rush and momentarily shut my eyes in bliss. I want to take my time with this, to revel in knowing that I finally have it. What I want. My object, the source of such titillation and aberrant thoughts is at last in my possession.
I sit in this tiny room littered with broken beer bottles, who wink at me as the fluorescent lights flicker. A single display case contains the only objects that aren't decaying in some way. My well-polished wrenches, saws and knives seem out of place with the rotting containers of half-eaten Chinese takeaway curry. Ropes caked with blood furl around my feet. Empty eyes torn from previous victims’ sockets silently showcase their final screams. I feel like a king. Or more like a God. I have it, finally. With bated breath I turn up the microphone in the bedroom.
Words cannot express the sheer intensity of ecstasy that enveloped me in that moment. A thrill of delight struck me as I leaned back in the cracked plastic chair. Soft, delicate breaths of air entered my ears, sweeter than the most pleasant melody. So precious, so attractive and so, so fragile. An ephemeral bloom, just aching to be taken by me. I take out a crumpled photo of her, drinking in the look in her amber eyes. I could tell she needs me. I am her saviour and she was born to be mine.
I am sharply torn out of my enthralled reverie. Her slight inhalations have changed! She is just on the cusp of wakefulness, about to become the only plaything in my world. Her eyes slowly flicker open and she drowsily shifts herself up. She falls back down on her back, evidently still feeling the effects of her spiked drink. How is there such poise, such delicateness in each of her movements? Even the swift action of flicking a black strand of hair out of her eyes is so mesmerizingly exquisite. Her eyes happen to fall right on where my camera is, so we are almost staring into each other's faces. I breathe in her soul. She of course cannot see the small hidden cameras or the microphones, and massages her pale, high temples. Her pallor brought on by the drugs doesn’t taint her beauty, in fact it amplifies it. For now she cannot tell anything is out of the norm, for all she knows she drank too much and miraculously ended up home. She looks around, checks her clock, satisfied that she hasn’t overslept for her ten o'clock shift at the burger joint just five minutes away. I didn’t even need the notes on all details of her life that I could ascertain. Though every mundane or significant aspect of her life I have scrupulously mapped out, it is all locked in my memory for eternity.
Again she tries to get up, this time strength steadily returning to her weakened frame. The creamy nightgown clings invitingly to her waist. I enjoyed pulling it over her immobile body. I stroke the image of her on my screens, lovingly caressing her head. Yes, lovingly. I did this out of love. I am her saviour, after all. Her barefooted steps produce a divine, muted sound; akin to falling snow. She opens her wardrobe, in which everything is in perfect order. Feminine silk blouses and plain cotton shirts hang neatly above carefully-folded scarves and jeans. She has no reason to suspect that this is not her bedroom. She picks out a pink shirt that I gather to be a favourite of hers, as she dons it in many of my photos. It is my favourite too. Her soft visage exemplifies a paragon of innocence in this attire. I softly croon words of praise at her for this, and I know that subconsciously she knows that she is pleasing me. She might not be aware of it yet, but the submissive movement of her arm as she takes a sip of water from ‘her’ nightstand displays a willingness to serve. Soon, though. Soon she will know what I did for her and I will fully revel in her ethereal grace.
Every minute detail I lovingly replicated, even reconstructing the crack she had on her ceiling wall and the small tear on her ‘Red Panda’ themed calendar. It took quite a bit of labour to replicate her exact penmanship for her scribbled-in reminder that she has a dentist appointment for the twenty-fifth of April. She makes her way over to her ensuite and I switch the cameras on in there to continue my observations. My mood suddenly shifts to alarm as I see her expression turn to one of confusion. She looks puzzled at her reflection. What did I miss? From all those nights that I watched her I cannot doubt that this is the exact clothes she owns. I wanted her to enjoy this for longer, to observe her in her natural state before she discovered the truth. She isn’t looking in the mirror. She is looking at the mirror. I grab the photos of her house that took me so long to obtain, so much effort to learn the exact schedule of her parents so that I could break in without disturbance. I even had to blackmail a cleaner into giving me a copy of keys to the house. I hurriedly flip through them, and find the ones detailing her bathroom. Another crack! How did I remember every single imperfection in all the rooms, but neglected this singular one! The mirror she was now examining was absent of any nicks or cracks. She briefly runs her palm over the surface, and seems to mouth something to herself; incomprehensible from the angle of my cameras.
She reaches for her hairbrush, and allows herself to dismiss this happening as nothing of any real significance. I gasped in utter enchantment at what happened next. Her movement, so delicate, yet firm to untangle her hair was just profound. Her mannerisms in this moment were so poised and seductive that I was sorely disappointed when the show was over. She moved on to brushing her teeth, arms still trembling somewhat from the rough night she didn’t know she had. She sighs while contemplating her face, today not bothering to cover up her freckles. I am glad. Her summery cheeks and nose are just divine, to me nothing short of tantalising. Maybe I’ll teach her this.
She then makes her way down the carpeted stairway, not even pausing to appreciate my skill in reconstructing her childhood paintings which her sentimental parents refused to take down. That’s fine, she will have a lot of time to explore my brilliant accuracy in due course.
I can hear her breath start to quicken as she enters the kitchen. She suddenly senses that something is out of place, and I lean forward, my breath fogging up the screen. She tentatively continues on, noticing her parents sitting at the kitchen table, the air strangely void of the usual morning chatter. I brewed the tea with two heaped spoons of sugar that her mother drinks and the black coffee for her father. I turned on their usual breakfast talk show. She’s just a couple of steps away from their backs facing the television. I can tell, she is inexplicably scared to look at their faces. With trepidation, she calls out to them. Once. Twice. Once more, more emphatically this time. She walks over to face them and cannot even scream. She has become immobile with shock as she looks into their glassy, unmoving eyes. Their mouths are open and the cotton I stuffed their bodies with is protruding. She rushes for the home phone, which is obviously dead. As dedicated as I am to producing an exact replica, I’m not foolish enough to allow any possible way for her to communicate with the outside world.
Desperate, she runs to the house door, which cannot open. I decided that it is time to introduce myself.Joint Winner of the 23rd Short Story Contest
Published in Issue #28