Behold: Sam’s fiction assignment based on the instruction to write a short story starting with the line ‘Where were you last night?’
“Where were you last night?”
His voice was soft, but there was an underlying edge. He was tired of this. We’d had this conversation every morning for the past three years. And, just as with every other time, my response was the same.
The reality was he wanted an answer, but I knew he couldn’t handle the truth. So, I never gave him more than that. It drove him insane, I knew that. I could see the tick in his jaw, the way his eyes flashed at my response, and how he watched my every movement with his determined concern.
I have no clue what he thought I was doing, perhaps sneaking out to meet up with some other guy or whatever else his imagination had created for an explanation. What I did know, though, was that no matter what he thought, it would never be as bad as the truth.
He would never think that every night, at exactly 3:33, I rose from our bed without a sound and made my way down the halls and out the back door. He would never think that I would then walk to places I’d never heard of and into the homes of people I’d never known. He would never think that I would then take the lives of these people, generally with a quick slash to their throat, all the while grinning as they drew their final breathes.
He didn’t know that after that, I would wander back down the unknown streets and find my way back into our house. I would numbly go to the bathroom, entranced. It wouldn’t be until the water of a cold shower was brutally hitting my face that I would come back.
That’s when I would see the shaking hands, my hands, and the bloodied streams running from them. I used to cry every time, I used to fall to my knees in horror and frantically scrub and tear at my skin. But, that was so long ago. Now, it was normal. Or, at least that’s what my mind told me. Maybe that’s how it kept me sane.
I used to search for the people too, in the papers and obituaries. I would see whose life had been ended at my hands; a businessman, a college student who was only starting into the real world, a single mom. There were others, so many others, each with a story ended abruptly. That stopped after a while too, I turned off my concern as easy as flipping a switch.
I couldn’t allow them into my world, it would ruin everything. They had to die, that was the deal, and it had to be at my hands. I couldn’t think about it like that, it wasn’t me who killed them. I was the one holding the knife, but I wasn’t the one who made that final decision to carry out the act.
It wasn’t me. It’s for the best. They had to die. That’s what I told myself, over and over again. And I believed it. I accepted it. I thrived on it.
It was thriving too, the thing that really did it. Never in its existence had it been so fortunate, our deal was exactly what it needed.
I could remember the night it happened, in fact, it’s the last night I can remember. It was dark, the moon didn’t shine and the stars were hiding. We’d just gotten the news, Eric and I. He was doing his best to be the tough guy he always thought he had to be, but we both knew how devastated the other was.
I had gone out, it was just past midnight and all I wanted was to take a walk, clear my head. I told him I’d be back soon and kissed his cheek as I left. I’d been walking for some time, not really with a destination in mind, just trying to keep my mind from thinking about what was happening.
That’s when it came to me. I could hear it creeping along behind me, coming so close that I could feel its hot, rancid breath on the back of my neck. I turned around, my heart pounding. Yet, as soon as my eyes met the glowing red ones, I was swept up in a wave of calm.
“I can help you,” it said, tilting its shadowed face. “I can make this all go away.”
“How? What could you possibly do that they haven’t tried?”
It chuckled at me, a sound that was oddly soothing. “Oh, darling. You underestimate me. I can do things that they’ve never imagined.”
“Okay,” I said slowly, and it took a step closer.
It leaned in until its mouth was hovering just beside my ear, and it whispered to me. My heart began to pound again at the words it uttered, but just as quickly it moved away and calmed me with its eyes.
“So, tell me darling. Do we have a deal?” Without another second of thought, my hand was reaching out and clasped around its clawed one.
I had to. I couldn’t lose Eric, and it could save him. All it needed was a little payment. It could extend one life, in return for others. And, of course, it needed a vessel to reap them with.