04 Sep A Lack of Empathy
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"A Lack of Empathy"Written by
Estimated reading time — 9 minutes
I wasn’t like other children growing up. I didn’t like talking to those smelly things in Kindergarten and I never participated in their silly games. But I had my own games to play and oh! What fun games they were! For example, a little girl once asked to borrow my crayons. I told her she could have them if she would tell our teacher to “fuck off”. She got sent home for that. I remember hearing her mother scream about the beating she would get later. Fun games, right?
It didn’t take long for the teachers to notice that the other children avoided me and how I never seemed to show emotion of any kind. They didn’t think I heard them whispering about me but I did. I have exceptionally good hearing. “Little monster” said Mrs. Guthrie. “Sociopath” whispered Mr. DePascal. Even at my young age, I had an extensive vocabulary. I had never heard of the word sociopath before and I was intrigued. When I got home that night I looked it up in my mother’s encyclopedia. Sociopath; a personality disorder characterized by a lack of empathy for others. I would have to agree with you, Mr. DePascal.
Elementary and middle school passed by quickly. I learned to fake emotions and excitement in order to fool my teachers and parents. I couldn’t fool my peers, though. No matter how convincing my act, they always seemed to instinctively know that I was different and they gave me a wide berth. Every once in a while one of them would try to make friends with me and that’s when I could really have some fun! But despite how I treated those around me, I didn’t hate any of them. It wasn’t until high school that someone finally managed to piss me off. That someone was Travis Murphy.
The Murphy family moved into my neighborhood before the start of tenth grade. They had two children, a son, Travis and his sister, Marion. I was looking forward to the inevitable time when my parents invited them over. Neither Travis nor Marion had ever met me and so they had no way of knowing of my sociopathic tendencies. They would amuse me quite a bit. But this time it would be I who was blindsided. Marion started out easily enough, displaying the normal interest and kindness by those who don’t yet know me. After some time, however, I realized that she thought I was handsome and was even starting to develop a crush on me. No girl had ever done this before and it was an entirely new experience for me. Fascinated, I decided to spare Marion from my games for a while longer and keep her around. So I continued to fake smiles and feign interest in what she had to say. Travis was an entirely different story. He seemed to have as little interest in me as I had in anyone else. I couldn’t play my games with him. He was completely uncaring. It angered me for the first time in my life. Over the years I had come to realize that I was special, far more important than these insects surrounding me. Why else would they be drawn to me, even as they know how alien I am to them? For one of these insects to dare ignore me…! For the first time in my life, I made the first move. I tried making small talk with Travis, I feigned emotion and interest in his life and did everything I could to make him interested in me. Nothing.
I was furious at first over his lack of interest but over the years I came to realize that he was like me; a sociopath. Completely devoid of caring for others. Instead of alleviating my frustration, this only increased it. I was special, unique! But now there was another one like me. If I wasn’t unique, could I still be special? Or was I ordinary? Just another insect? No! I refused to be ordinary. One may as well be dead. And so that’s what I endeavored to do from that day forth. I would make Travis ordinary. I would kill him.
Fueled by passion as I was, I waited. High school passed and college started. Trifles. I learned new ways to express myself through sex with Marion. I learned the value of pain and how to make her beg for it. It was all very fascinating at first but, like everything else, it eventually lost it’s intrigue. My focus shifted away from Marion and back to Travis. I was fully ready to kill him, but cautious. I wasn’t naive enough to think the insects would let me get away with it if they knew I murdered him and I wanted to avoid prison at all costs. I fear nothing except boredom and that is what prison is. Endless boredom. I couldn’t act impulsively. I had to be calculating and crafty. As long as I was taking my time, I figured I may as well have some fun!
My first chance to toy with my prey came about my second semester in college. Travis and his family were leaving for a week to visit a relative or some such bullshit and they were leaving their dog behind. They paid a neighbor to check in on him three times a day, giving him food and taking him outside. I watched this for two days, learning what the schedule was before making a plan. The night before the Murphys returned, I crept into the house after the neighbor fed the dog for the last time. Marion had given me the security code to shut off the burglar alarm so I could sneak in for sex. Wearing gloves and a mask, I entered the house, unseen by the sleeping neighbors. The dog knew me by scent and didn’t bark. He bounded to me, tail wagging and tongue hanging stupidly out of his mouth. I worked quickly, taking his head in my hands and crushing it, driving my thumbs deep into the eye sockets and feeling the dog’s skull fracture in my palms. He let out only a quick whimper before falling silent forever. Good boy.
I brought a homemade kit along with me, a scalpel and various other instruments stolen from the science lab. I eviscerated the dog, wrapping his intestines around the living room light, ensuring that it would be the first thing the Murphys see when they got home. The thought of them turning on the fan and being pelted with drops of blood amused me. I used most of the dog’s blood to write the threatening message; “YOU’RE NEXT” on Travis’ bedroom wall. I left the carcass on his bed. As a private joke, I left the dog’s heart on Marion’s pillow. Satisfied with my handiwork, I went back to my dorm, where I slept quite soundly.
There was a big commotion the week following the day the Murphys returned. Stories and images of the carnage in their house were on the local news every night. There were rumors that the Murphys were going to move away soon. Supposedly Mrs. Murphy couldn’t stand to be in the house anymore. I had to act fast. I couldn’t allow my prey to escape from me. Sitting in my dorm, I dreamed of all manner of destruction for my enemy. There was a flash of light over my wall, headlights from outside. That was odd. It was almost midnight on Saturday. Nearly everyone was already gone. Curiosity overtaking me, I went to the window to see who would be coming to the dorm at this hour on a weekend and was surprised (One of the few times I’ve ever truly been surprised) to see Travis’ car sitting in the driveway. Fortune smiled on me. The building was nearly empty for the weekend and now was the perfect time to strike. My prey was unsuspecting and alone. After killing him, I would take his body and deposit it somewhere else on campus. There was virtually no chance of getting caught. No one wants to stay on the weekends and the electricity was shut off on campus for another six hours. No security cameras. In a considerably jolly mood, I grabbed my flashlight and scalpel and set out to stalk my prey.
The dark never bothers me. Having very little emotion my rational mind tends to dominate and the rational part of human beings know that nothing is waiting for us in the dark. Or at least, that’s what we think. Several minutes into my hunt it occurred to me to turn my flashlight off. I don’t want to alert my prey. I switched it off and waited for my eyes to adjust. I leaned against the wall and played with my scalpel to pass the time. A normal person probably wouldn’t have heard the light breathing in the hall but I’ve always had exceptionally good hearing. I whipped my head in the direction of the sound. My eyes hadn’t yet adjusted to the darkness but I was able to make out a figure exiting down the hall and I could hear the unusually light footsteps. Whoever this person was, they were taking care to avoid detection by me. I rushed to the spot they were just standing at and breathed in deeply. There was just the faintest hint of cinnamon. Travis kept a cinnamon air freshener in his car. I grinned widely. I was on the trail of my prey. I followed him down the hallway and was disappointed to find that it branched out into two other halls. I again tried smelling each hall to figure out which one Travis took when I heard a brief commotion to the right. I hesitated. Would Travis make that much noise if he was trying to get away from me? After a moment I took a chance and headed in the direction of the noise. After a minute or so I stopped. Ahead of me, there was someone lying on the floor. Approaching carefully, I realized the body was lying in a pool of blood. I touched it. Still warm. I rolled the body over to see who it was. Mr. Chauncey, the night custodian. I hadn’t realized that Travis was capable of killing someone. In my hatred for him, I had forgotten that he was just like me. Just as cold and unfeeling. He was more than able to do everything I could. I froze. There was light breathing in front me again, but I couldn’t see it’s source. For the first time in my life, I felt fear. I no longer felt like the hunter stalking his prey. I felt hunted. My rational mind was overcome by emotion and I fled back to my dorm room in terror. I barricaded the door and waited, scalpel in hand, for Travis to come for me.
After several hours, I started to resent myself for feeling this way. He was only a man, however extraordinary. The fact that he had actually frightened me fueled my hatred for him and I left to search. Mr. Chauncey’s body was gone, the pool of blood cleaned up. The hints of cinnamon in the air had long since dispersed. I left the building to wait in Travis’ car for him only to find that it was gone to. Fury taking hold of me, I started in the direction of his house. I clenched my scalpel tightly, relishing in the fantasies of what I was going to do to him. I should have been paying more attention because I never even heard him creep up and was too slow to avoid the baseball bat swinging through the air for me. It connected with my wrist and I felt the bones snap. I dropped the scalpel and lunged for it with my good hand but a boot kicked it away. Looking up, I saw Travis grinning down at me. He brought the bat down again and again. I thought he’d never stop, but he did. Lying there on the sidewalk, broken and bloody, I waited for death to come. Instead of the reaper’s skull, it was Travis’ face grinning down at me. Even though I was helpless before him, I still burned with rage. He leaned in close to smell my bleeding face and whispered in my ear; “We’re going to have such fun together!”
I spent two weeks in the hospital before leaving against my doctor’s wishes. Travis clearly had held back on the beating. I only had a broken wrist and several cracked ribs, though most of my body was heavily bruised. Every step hurt but I ignored it. I had a purpose. I would never be a victim again. Travis had an advantage over me in that he knew I would come and he was not injured like me. So I figured I would even the odds. I stole my father’s pistol and waited for night to fall.
It was nearing 3 in the morning when I crept up to the Murphy house once again. The adults’ car was gone, but Travis’ mustang was still there. Good. We wouldn’t be interrupted. I could take my time. I turned off the burglar alarm, marveling at how stupid the Murphys were for not changing it. I opened the sliding door and stepped lightly into the house. All of the lights were off but my eyes were well adjusted to the darkness. I silently approached Travis’ bedroom and pulled out the gun. After a moment to steady my resolve I burst in. I was not prepared for what I saw.
Travis was lying on his bed, a look of mild surprise on his face. His throat was slashed from ear to ear. Blood was everywhere, including a message on the walls that read “BAD BOY”. In my shock I didn’t hear the light footsteps creeping up behind me and knew no more of the next few moments except a dull thud on the back of my skull.
I awoke in a basement, tied to a chair. Absurdly, my first thought was how cliche this seemed to be. My eyes took a second to adjust and I saw a naked figure standing in front of me. It’s body was covered in blood, which I presumed was Travis’. Through the pounding in my head, I heard the figure speak. “I didn’t want to do it like this. Why couldn’t you boys just behave yourselves?” The figure paced in front of me. “No one ever does what their supposed to. You weren’t supposed to find me. Mr. Chauncey wouldn’t get out of my way.” The figure stopped in front of me. “Travis wasn’t supposed to hurt you. I told him not to but after he realized what you were he just couldn’t help himself. I suppose that’s why you went after him too?” The figure stroked my face tenderly. “I watched you when you killed our dog. You never knew I was there. I’m real good at hiding. It was so sweet of you, to leave me the heart. I still have it.” Marion smiled at me. I could see something in her eyes. Something I didn’t have. The absurd part of my brain started to point out the difference between sociopath and psychopath. We have the silliest thoughts at the silliest times, don’t we?
“I didn’t want things to work out this way but it’s ok. We’ll make it work. I’ll kill my parents when they come home and we’ll go far away, to someplace beautiful where we can be together forever.” I thought about feigning emotion and manipulating her into letting me go but I knew when I looked into her face that it was useless. She didn’t care about my situation, only hers. A complete lack of empathy.
Credit To: Jacob Mielke