The Stalker – Horror Flash Fiction
“By moonlight, someone retrieves an item from a jewelry box. But the item is not jewelry.”
Prompt Suggestion from Tara Sue Dickerson via Facebook
Art credit: screenshot from Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2
The first time I noticed him, it was on a moonless night. I’d been walking along the shoreline, clearing my head after a horrible tangle with my boyfriend. This man crept out behind a bush, darted behind a tree, then dashed forward at a house. He peeked into a window, then ran to the backyard. I stood there in the darkness watching. Moments later, he ran from around the backyard and off into the distance. Why I didn’t call the cops is still a mystery to me, but what could I have said? Tall, darkly-covered man, no face, because I couldn’t make out his face. It was too dark and I was too far away. To my horror, I read in the paper the next morning that a woman had been killed in that house and some property stolen. And yet, I was strangely intrigued by this murdering burglar.
I began walking about the city at night more often. I know it sounds crazy, but I was searching for this man. After nearly a week, I lost hope and was about to stop my insanity and then I spotted him again. A similar scenario. He peeked into a window, dashed to the backyard again. Moments later, he returned to the street and walked down the road, whistling. I followed him, hiding in the shadows, sneaking along bushes and trees. Pasting myself against cornered walls. I followed him until he went inside an apartment building. I waited long into the night, but he never came back outside. Exhausted, yet exhilarated, I finally left and walked home. The paper the next morning reported another dead woman and theft of property.
I began showing up at his apartment house. Watching and waiting. Followed him to liquor stores, grocery stores, a race track, and a bar over the course of another week. No suspicious activity. I began questioning my own mind. Had I imagined it all? Was this even the same man?
And then one night, exactly a week from the prior week’s killing, he went out again dressed all in black. I followed him, stealth-like. Hiding in the shadow. Careful not to be seen or heard. He approached another house, peeked in, went to the back. Curiosity overcame me. I went up to the house and peeked inside the window.
He stood over a young woman. Struck her in the face. Pulled out a glistening knife. Stabbed her repeatedly. Her arms, legs, torso, chest, and even… oh God! He disfigured her face! His own face lit up. Lips curled at the ends. Crooked smile. Then he darted around the house from room to room. I couldn’t always see where he was, but I knew I had to get away from there. And then it suddenly hit me, I was stalking a serial killer.
My conscience kept screaming at me to call the cops. Turn him in. I knew where he lived. I knew his crimes. I even knew his face now. So why didn’t I call? I still didn’t know the answer. I told no one. Not even my best friend who was worried about me walking around the city at night so often. My obsession only grew.
I’d sussed out his routine. Every Thursday he killed and robbed a woman. Friday’s he celebrated at Jack’s Pub. Saturday and Sundays, he went to the tracks. Made bets on horses. Usually lost. Mondays he made a trip to the grocers. Tuesdays he went to the liquor store. Wednesdays he stayed in. Drinking. Perhaps working up the courage to do what he knew he would do again on Thursday night. Week after week, month after month, he never deviated from this schedule. He’d murdered twelve women since I began watching him. Twelve lives I could have saved. The cops still hadn’t a clue who he was. He left no fingerprints or evidence behind. No one witnessed his rampage. No one but me. I was definitely insane now.
It was a full moon. I walked quietly behind him, hiding in the shadows, ducking behind trees, cars, bushes. He approached a house. Peeked inside. Smiled and walked to the backyard. I crept up onto the porch, looked inside like I had so many times, and watched him. The slap. The stabs. The disfigurement. It had all become routine to me. I was no longer horrified by what I saw. When he began searching the house, I backed away and hid behind a large oak tree.
He exited the backyard holding something in his hand. I followed. He deviated from his normal routine and instead headed for the beach. I stood behind a building and watched as he buried something in the sand. Curiosity gripped me. He left and instead of following him, I waited. After about thirty minutes, he hadn’t returned. I walked down to the spot and began digging in the sand. After a few minutes, I unearthed a jewelry box. Black with abalone shell inlay. I slowly opened the lid. A song began to play. A ballerina turned. The box was empty except for a folded sheet of paper. I removed it. Opened it. And then jumped! My eyes darted back and forth along the shore. Scanned the street above. I tossed the box and letter to the sand and fled.
The note had simply said – You’re next!
©2016 Lori Carlson. All rights reserved.