A man dug around in his coat pocket, his fingers feeling for his wallet.
"That'll be $2.50." A hoarse, monotonic voice blurted the answer as if the phrase had been recited so often it was mechanic.
From behind the glass, he could see who the voice belonged to. She had a drab, sunken figure with an expressionless face that hid behind the glass in the small booth that held her. It seemed as if a forced smile could have shown through out of courtesy, but that died a long time ago alongside the enthusiasm she once had with the job.
He slid $2.50 in mostly change through the small hole in the glass towards the change booth attendant. She paused momentarily, examining the money for a second, and then slid some tickets back at him through the same hole. Pocketing both the tickets and his wallet, he uttered a simple polite thank you and walked away, his gratitude left unnoticed.
Taking a deep breath, he stepped through a small gate and into the mainstream of the subway station. He could see various people leaning against the concrete walls, some with torn garbage bags yet others holding briefcases and chatting into their cell phones. The crowded station carried an almost tense, unfriendly atmosphere as people pushed past him in a rush to wherever they needed to go. The train hadn't arrived yet but people were lining up near the track anyway, tapping their feet and checking their watches almost as if out of habit.
All of this seemed to be happening in slow motion as he grew more anxious. His attention was elevated now. Instead of taking a seat in an empty bench, he paced fretfully, waiting for the train. Paranoia started wrapping its anxiety-laden hands around his thoughts as he stared at those who passed by. There was no way of knowing if they were watching him, but it was safe to assume as much.
A man in a shady black trench coat stood out particularly as he sat in the bench closest him, his face buried in the laptop resting on his lap. But he could tell that this man was not absorbed into his computer-he had his eyes partly focused on him. He wondered if this man was one of them.
Maybe he's not really watching you. Just wait for the train. Tomorrow you'll be out of town, just relax. Relax... He coached himself with wasted efforts. The truth was that he couldn't relax, regardless of how his mind pleaded. It was as if the dark-coated man's gaze bore down upon him wherever he moved. Whenever he made it apparent that he knew the man was staring at him, the man would smile and pretend to busy himself in his laptop again.
Although it had only been five minutes, it seemed like it had been five hours as he waited for the train to come pulling into the tunnel. When it happened, he pushed past a few people brusquely just to distance himself as fast as possible. As he disappeared into a crowd of people piling into the train, the man sitting on the bench closed his laptop, stretched, and followed.
The sun fluttered into the hotel room through the open curtains illuminating the room as it danced about. It beamed onto the wall across from the window, its golden rays highlighting the panic in Ted Ganely's face.
"I have a family, please!" He gagged, his torso held tightly against a chair with a fixture of wire. "I don't have what you want! I don't know what you want to know!"
"Lots of people have families," Ian bluntly stated, examining Ted's fear with a sort of insane grin.
He removed a handsomely crafted knife from its sheath. It was a treasure he kept with much indulgence, and he declared it his favorite amongst the knives he owned. It was constructed beautifully--a brilliant mahogany handle held the stunning stainless steel blade, which was perfectly crafted and sharper than a razor. To embellish it, there was a die-cast finger guard built into the handle. Yeah, it was nice. The specs were nothing compared to the damage it could do.
He'd since been lying on the bed, his left arm folded behind his head. With the knife held in his right hand, he stared back at himself through the reflection in the blade. An evenly-proportioned, pale-as-a-vampire face stared back at him. His shadowy black hair drooped lazily past his eyebrows and was long enough to cover his ears. He considered himself attractive; his ego made sure of that.
"You know, I've been thinking," He said, and after sitting up in bed, he leaned closer until his face was just inches from Ted's. "I haven't really been giving my 110 percent lately."
The man gulped. His eyes were wide and his body rigid, as if he thought that a single movement would cause his tormentor to snap. He didn't know what state of mind this madman was in. For all he knew, breathing the wrong way could deliver the final agony that would end his life. It very well could have. Ian was getting bored.
"Wh-what's that supposed to mean?" Ted made his fear more apparent from the shakiness of his voice.
"Oh, nothing in particular,"
"Why-" His voice broke away as he watched Ian play around with the knife in his hands. "You won't get away with this, if you kill me. I know people."
"Oh, you do?" He couldn't help but show the amusement in his voice.
"Th-they'll come for you..."
"Oh really? I assume you're going to rise from the dead and ask them to avenge you, am I right?" He bellowed a laugh that would have been sadistic enough to come from Hell itself.
He pulled away and sat back down on the bed. Swiftly, with precision, he hurled the knife towards his victim. It wedged itself in the wood backing of the chair, just inches from Ted's neck. Ted took in a deep breath, trying but failing to hide his obvious terror as his eyes shifted over to the blade hanging dangerously close to his jugular.
What a poor excuse for a grown man... Ian thought to himself, staring intently, although rather baffled, at the man tied to the chair. Ted was pathetic, just as he had figured. He wished he had at least a little empathy for him, seeing as this man was scared senseless whenever he moved. What was empathy, again?
He lifted himself off of the edge of the bed, stretching as he stood. His feet touched one of the tarps he had used to cover almost all of the carpet with. When he reached forward to pull the knife out of the chair, Ted held his breath and clenched his teeth, which made Ian glance at him with something that looked like annoyed pity. But pity was stored away in that lockbox of emotions he never felt. The look was cause by more of a sense of shame on himself for picking such unworthy prey.
Sighing, he finally said, "I'm getting bored, and I warn you, that's not a good thing."
He slipped the knife, sheathed, into his pocket.
Ted remained silent, sweat pouring down his face. It was a cold sweat generated by a fear he wished wasn't experiencing--the kind of fear that was so unreal it felt like a dream. He sincerely wanted it to be a dream, but he knew that sincerity wouldn't make it any less of a reality. His eyes were trained on his captor with terrified resentment.
The captor stepped back and made his way over to the window, contemplating again. He thought it was quite a beautiful morning, considering. His back was stiff from waiting up in the car all night, watching and waiting for an opportunity to snag his prey. Funny how hard that can be, taking into account all of the things he had to watch out for. It was definitely a big gamble. No surprise: he liked gambling.
The sun that shined through the window warmed his face comfortably, something it rarely did, since his pale skin was proof of his dislike for it. His reflection appeared on the window, and he saw the blood on his shirt. He always got blood on his clothing, even if he wasn't very close to his victims.
All jobs had their downsides. Killing people was obviously messy, and he hated messes. His mother thought it was unnatural, the way he kept his room. He thought it was necessary. But blood was another story. It left a nice pattern on whatever it happened to fall upon. The color of it, too, was intriguing; such a dark, rich red. Seeing it made him feel more like a demon or something, like he belonged in Hell, which he was certain that he did.
Muffled screams came from behind him, and he sighed.
He turned around and put his hand to his forehead as he noticed that Ted had knocked the chair over. His brief moment of tranquility was rudely interrupted. The genius was now choking on the wire that bound him, part of it hanging loosely around him whilst the other portion was entwined tightly around his neck and upper body. Ian didn't really want to deal with it. But his screams became louder and less muffled. Someone would grow curious if this kept up.
"You are a waste of time," Ian sighed in disappointment as he walked over to the bed and pulled the chair upright, his victim writhing and trying to get away on the floor. "Almost makes me feel sorry for you. It's discouraging."
Now came the process of removing the wire he had so charily wound. It peeled away from Ted's flesh as it unraveled. Wire was an interesting device to use, really. Human strength couldn't break it, and if someone dare tried, the pain inflicted would cease that attempt. Barbed wire was fun too, but he was fresh out.
Ted was left shuddering on the floor after all of the wire was removed. Ian propped him up against the wall next to the chair.
Ian merely smiled. "You what? You're still begging for your life or something?"
"Please...I beg you." He managed to say, his voice choked with sobs and rough from the minor asphyxiation he experienced from the wire.
Leaning closer to Ted's face, Ian whispered, "You'd like that, wouldn't you?"
Ted nodded as his tear-ridden eyes met with Ian's, his face growing redder.
"It's amazing what death can do to a man." Ian slipped the knife out of his pocket, and slid the blade from its sheath once more. "Crying like a child. Fascinating..." He maintained a monotone voice as he kept his eyes locked onto his victim's.
"W-why? Why do you want to kill me? I don't know anything. I just..." Ted's words were barely audible, as his sobs were doing their best to drown them out.
"'Why'? You ask 'why'?" Ian began, speaking as if he was visiting a memory he wished not to visit. "My parents were just horrible, you know? My father beat me, and my mother was a drunk," He paused for effect. "I'd come home from school after being bullied only to find that my father readied the belt just to beat my ass. It was... absolutely horrible. So, now I take it out on society by killing people who have had a better life than me! Great logic, isn't it?"
Ian saw Ted loosen up a bit, but tears were still flowing down his face. He almost looked confused.
"Nah, just kidding. My childhood was perfect. In fact," He said as he sat down on the bed, "it couldn't have been better. My father was a highly respected businessman, my mother a teacher, blah, blah, blah. Graduated high school, even, and went on into college and all. You wanna know why I do this?" He grinned. "Because I can."
"You-you'll never..." His terror elevated as he realized he really was dealing with a genuine madman.
"'... 'get away with this'? On the contrary," He said, sliding the knife across Ted's cheek, a line of blood tracing the knife's path. "I'd like to think I'm pretty good at this. I don't think anyone's going to catch me soon."
Ian watched as his victim's face took on its final stunning shade of bright red. It wasn't getting any redder at this point.
"You're fucking sick! You all will crumble, I know it! I know they hired you!" Ted yelled.
Ian was taken aback at his sudden outburst of anger but was more puzzled by what this man was saying than how he said it. What the hell is he talking about?
Ted got to his feet and kicked at him, failing miserably. He missed and crash-landed on the bed, toppling onto the floor at the foot of it and taking the blankets with him. What did he plan to do? Hide under the blankets so the mean monster with the sharp objects wouldn't hurt him?
But he only managed to get himself wrapped up in a multi-layered cocoon of cheap hotel bedding. Ian unwrapped him from the cloth like he was an unsightly Christmas present. Tossing the bedding off to the side, he looked down at him.
A light bulb flickered somewhere in the demonic landscape of Ian's mind.
Ted tried to crawl away as Ian left in search of his bag of
goodies. The bag was sitting on the floor, perched up against the
dresser. It was open, spewing out some of its contents:�a
hacksaw, his toothbrush, some clothes, some leftover wire, and…a
pair of pruning shears.
����������� Gardening really wasn't his thing, obviously. He picked the shears up and held them in his hands, flexing the blades open and closed.
The man was near the window now. He wanted out.
"I don't think so." Ian laughed.
He stepped his way over and grabbed him, pulling him away from potential freedom. Once he made it over to the chair again, he propped him up, and forced his left hand under his chin, smashing his head against the wall.
Ian pried open his mouth, and in went the shears, clamping onto the corner of his lips. Applying a little pressure produced a terrified half-scream from Ted.
Ted complied, with Ian still holding the shears in his mouth, pinching the skin painfully. He loosened them and laughed. A sighing victim stared him in the eye. With a final cruel chuckle, he squeezed the blades together
Blood streamed from the corner of Ted's mouth from the slit made by the shears, falling over his chin like a waterfall. It was a blinding pain elevated by the mortified screams that emanated from his throat, and Ian pulled away.
"Turn that fucking TV down, some people are still trying to sleep!" Someone from the neighboring room yelled. Ian chuckled.
The predator moved in again. The other corner was the next to go. The shears sliced so easily through his cheeks… �
Ted collapsed to the floor, practically throwing himself off of the chair. Blood fell from his face, piloted by gravity, onto the tarps as he crawled on hands and knees towards the door. Ian stepped back and let him get close; close enough to touch reprieve, but then he lunged at him.
He grabbed his right arm and dragged him across the tarp, blood coating the path he went over. A bloody handprint was stamped onto the white paint on the door. How classic.
Forcing him onto his back, he placed a foot on his chest and held it there. The mutilated man shivered and convulsed violently, not sure whether to cry or to scream, neither of which he knew would help.
Ian tossed the pruning shears onto the bed and let his knife grace the scene once again.
He held it in his fingers loosely. It dangled above Ted's chest and he swung it like a pendulum. Every time it swung, his grip got weaker, daring to let the knife plummet into the soft flesh.
�And it fell. It slowly dove at him, falling as if someone had
tweaked reality. Movies never captured slow-motion like this. He
didn't see anything but that blade. It flashed before him; not
his life, not his memories.
����������� Ian ruined the suspense and snatched it out of the air just before it hit him. The man wanted so badly not to be taken by the blade of his tormentor's pretty knife. You can't always get what you want. With that knife, he drove it across Ted's short little neck; it sliced through as smooth as butter. Blood surged out, powered by the heart's own pumping, and Ted, conscious enough, choked and coughed horrendously. He fell lifeless at Ian's feet, his eyes frozen open. He looked like a dead fish.
How astonishing. They all did, really. That lifeless stare looked the same as it always did.