He’d expected that. Planned for it. And, thus, was not startled or derailed from his process by it.
The giant trees surrounding them soaked up the cry of pain and terror, diffusing it, muffling it, keeping it hidden and safe from the rest of the world.
Plus, it didn’t last long. He made sure of that.
Blood dripped from the knife and disappeared into the muck of the forest floor. The part of him that needed to control everything cursed his inability to staunch and contain the flow. He had wanted to leave no trace. He had planned on leaving no trace. And while it was unlikely the ground would offer up any usable evidence against him, the possibility remained.
His mind scrambled over potential solutions, rejecting each idea for the lack of control he would have with each. If he shifted the mud around. If he set the forest ablaze. If he buried the scene under an avalanche somehow.
Wiping the blade clean with a rag he would incinerate later, he tossed the weapon and the cloth into the plastic bag he’d brought for exactly that purpose, then turned his back on his crime and left the way he had come. It was all he could do.
He found that he was relieved with how little his hands shook as he packed away the gear into the back of his jeep. He’d expected to be more nervous. He’d expected to have a physical reaction to the emotional and mental trauma, because it was traumatic even if he had been the one to instigate it. Taking a life wasn’t something most humans were capable of doing calmly.
Yet, he had.
He didn’t have time to ponder that, and what it implied about him, as he double-checked he had stowed everything securely and then started up the vehicle and eased out of the parking lot. A small smile touched the corners of his lips when he saw the tracks from his jeep blend in with the other vehicle tracks from the wet weekend.
The forecasted storm for that evening should confuse things further.
The drive went quickly and without incident. As a bonus, the rain didn’t start until he’d already parked and pulled his gear inside. He left the jeep out in the open to let the downfall wash away any traces of mud and mountain that had remained after the journey home. It was one less thing to worry about.
He would still check it in the daylight the following day, and more than likely wash it again, but he didn’t mind the helping hand.
The knife went into an ammonia bath. As it soaked, he started a fire in his hearth and tossed in the cloth, the plastic bag, and then added the clothes he’d been wearing one piece at a time. He stirred the coals as needed to make sure every last scrap was obliterated, as though they had never existed to begin with.
A long shower afterwards rinsed away the last bit of evidence, and tension, that had somehow managed to cling to him. After removing the knife from the ammonia with a pair of plastic gloves, he drained the ammonia down the bathtub drain, and then washed the whole tub out with bleach. The gloves were tossed into the fire once he was done.
He stood before the flames, naked, clean. They flicked and flared in their dance of life and death.
He’d obtained some over the counter sleep aids in case he needed them, but he had no trouble at all falling asleep. His body rested into the comfortable mattress, his arms and legs found their normal position, he closed his eyes, and he easily drifted into his dreams.
He woke refreshed and ready to tackle the remainder of his cleanup to-do list.
After washing the jeep, vacuuming out the inside, and scrubbing down every inch of the interior with a cleaner soaked rag, he jumped in and took it for a drive. He let the road and traffic patterns dictate his route, and when he found a diner he’d never eaten at before, but still looked good, he pulled off and parked in the back. On his way into the restaurant he removed a bag of trash from the jeep and tossed it in with the diner’s refuse.
The knife, the final link to his crime, was buried within the bag and therefore transferred into obscurity.
He enjoyed a large meal and then headed home.
With each following day that passed without officers knocking on his door to handcuff him and haul him to jail, his confidence increased. The certainty that he had gotten away with murder settled around him. The world looked different. There was nothing he couldn’t accomplish if he set his mind to it.
At work, concepts he hadn’t fully grasped before came to him easily. He worked smarter and his bosses noticed and rewarded his efforts with increasingly difficult tasks and a series of promotions.
Life was good.
Nearly a year, shy by less than two weeks, from taking her life, he had the first nightmare about getting caught. He’d left something at the scene. The cops came for him. He went to jail and was placed on death row because he’d stupidly left them a clue to follow.
When day broke his worries eased. Too much time had passed. Anything that had been left would have degraded in the wilds. He breathed a sigh of relief and went about his day normally.
As the anniversary approached the nightmares grew in frequency and intensity. The terror faded with the coming of the sun, but he felt like he was losing his mind. He didn’t know what to do. He didn’t know why he should be worrying about it so long after the fact.
When he woke the day of the anniversary he knew exactly what he needed to do. He had to start planning the next murder.
This twisted little tale was brought to you in response to the current Flash Fiction Challenge – Ten Little Chapters:
“You still have 1000 words.
But you’re going to break that up into 10 chapters.
Now, ostensibly that works out to about 100 words per chapter, though variation on that is fine. However you see fit to make it work. The goal here is to maintain brevity but increase scope. Can you tell a larger story in a smaller space? Does breaking it up make that easier — or harder?
Otherwise, standard rules apply.
Any genre will do.
Post at your blog, then drop a link in the comments [on the post linked above] to that blog.
Due by next Friday, March 28th, noon EST.
1000 words, split into ten chapters. Now write it.”
The idea of splitting 1,000 words into ten chapters was too much fun to pass up. And, I have to say, it was harder than I thought it was going to be. I always knew the last couple chapters were going to be shorter so I’d some room to open up the earlier chapters, but it was still very difficult to get under the word count limit.
How about you? Do you have a story to tell in 1,000 words? Do you have recurring nightmares? Could you get away with a crime as heinous as murder?