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Choices

Choices


Estimated reading time — 15 minutes

Choices define us. A series of decisions made throughout our lives that make us who we are. I have made some bad choices in my life, mostly all bad, now that I think about it. Choices that have led me to this moment again and again, laying in bed, contemplating everything that came before it. Every time I find myself here, I ask myself… Is this what I am?

The early sun pierced the curtains of my bedroom, cutting into my eyes, telling me to wake up and finish what I started the night before. A heavy sigh escaped my lungs, a dirty hand wiping my grimy face, day old stubble itching under my palm. I squinted hard to wish the morning fog away, knowing that yet another bad decision has forced me into a long days work. A nagging hangover piercing the back of eyes, punishing me yet again.

Slowly rolling my head to the side I see her laying there, facing away from me, motionless, covers pulled up to her chin, soft skin quietly reflecting the morning sunlight, her beautiful blonde hair sprawled across the pillow, flowing in the morning sun. What was her name? It escapes me more often now with every girl, all of them blending into the same person. Amy. I think her name was Amy.

Shaking the mundane thoughts from my brain I slowly rose from the bed, smooth carpet underneath my feet almost refreshing. Peering down, stretching my neck and slowly taking a breath I opened my eyes wider now, the morning blur slowly fading. The ocean of grey carpet leading into the kitchen filled my view. No stains this time, finally a good choice from last night.

I stood slowly, feeling the ache in my back and my left knee from an old injury, I’m getting too old for this lifestyle, these bad decisions will be the death of me. I walked across the bedroom making the transition from worn carpet to cool tile, the tiles creaking accompanying my every step. I nearly trip on the plastic garbage bags hugging the entranceway, the act jarring me out of my trance. I made my way to the kitchen sink, excited for the water to hit my face and wash away my sins.

Turning the tap and waiting for water to kick in, I leaned over the stainless steal, the cool metal on my forearms was comforting. Closing my eyes and taking an over exaggerated gasp of air, I cupped a generous amount of water and splashed it across my face. I knew no water could wash away the sins of my life, but one could dream. I blindly reached for the towel and slowly dabbed my face dry, the sun now full on stretching across my apartment, sunlight engulfing Amy like an angel ascending… or was it Amanda?

These girls are all the same anyway, a blessing and a curse. I poured a glass of water and then moved to the freezer, opening slowly and feeling the cold air wash over my hand and climb up my arm. I smiled deeply peering inside. Three perfect heads looking back at me, there hair frozen like statues, lifeless and perfect, this is where the rest of my angels were. Two blondes and a brunette, three more of my bad choices, their heads preserved out of respect for their bodies that I consumed over the past months. Their names escape me, but do you expect anything less?

“Good morning my loves” I whispered, knowing that Amanda will be joining them soon. They will be overjoyed for new company I’m sure. The thought of previously choices creeping in again.. Is this what I am?

Closing the freezer gently, I moved back towards the bedroom where she was laying lifeless waiting for my return. I made sure to sidestep the entrance-way garbage bags this time, each one holding unwanted body parts of our newly departed Amanda. I could follow the trail of blood from my bathroom to where the bags lay now, letting out a sigh knowing the work that is ahead of me today. At least it was only the tiles this time… a long day’s work ahead of me.

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Making my way into the bedroom I sat beside Amy, peeled off the covers to reveal her perfect lifeless head on my pillow, still bathing in the morning sun. Her town flesh sagging at her neck where I had cut the night before and tucked her in for her long sleep.
“You are beautiful” I say to her, gently placing what is left of her inside a grocery bag, ready to join the others in the kitchen. “Now, lets clean up these bad choices”.

Three weeks later

The sounds of the live band at the bar were pulsing throughout the room, streetlights peering through the windows, illuminating the people occupying the dance floor. I felt miles away sitting at a lonely table at the back, nursing a pint taking in the surroundings, analyzing the patrons, drunk on the night.

A slight smile crept across my face seeing all these people, some dancing, a couple arguing, two strangers making out at the bar. It made me think of all the choices that had led them here on this cool summer night, the choices that will lead to one of them joining my freezer of angels tonight. Most men are here fishing for their women tonight, but me here tonight, I am hunting.

Glancing at my watch I see it reads 0123, almost last call for alcohol, and the final last call for one unfortunate patron. Then I see her, a petite redhead standing at the corner of the bar, furiously texting someone on her phone, perhaps a boyfriend, a girlfriend or incoherently clogging up a group chat. She stops briefly as the bartender reaches over with the machine, I notice her fake smile as she looks up, a strand of fire red hair falling across her freckle painted cheeks. Her blue eyes are piercing, blue as the ocean, wide eyed and innocent.

“You are beautiful” I mutter to myself. Snapping out of my gaze I check for my belongings, wallet, keys, no phone, that stays at home when I’m out making my bad choices. I slowly stand and move around the table as she moves for the front door. As I walk through the dancefloor the smell of alcohol and sweat engulf me, sidestepping dancers and drunks spilling their drinks. The most precarious part of this hunt so far is avoiding being hit with a wayward gin and tonic.

I make it through the human obstacle course and reach the door, opening it with one hand and letting the cool summer air wash over my face, my ears ringing, the silence deafening in comparison from what was transpiring inside the bar.

I take a deep breath and scan left and right looking for my ginger. There she is, across the street now heading to the west away from the strip. I quickly scan my eyes behind her, no one is following, no girlfriends screaming for her to come back, she doesn’t stop to wait for a cab or an Uber. Her choice to walk home alone tonight will be her last.

The thoughts race through my head as I have already made the turn and started following her from the other side of the street. A quick check of my belt confirms my hunting knife is still there, waiting for her thirst to be quenched by our new victim.

The street is getting less congested, only a handful of cars are parked here, the streetlights are sparser, concealing my movement. A quick glance shows me no cars are approaching as I quickly move across the street, the red hair girl still locked onto her phone, the world around her a black hole.

Twenty feet away, I can hear her footsteps now and I match her pace to disguise my own. Only a few cars lay lifeless in the street ahead, an alley upcoming within a block, that will be my spot to take her. Quick and quiet. My palms start to sweat as the urge to strike is growing inside me.

Ten feet now, still lost in her phone I can hear her typing to whoever is on the other end. My right hand drifts to my knife, grasping it with an overhand grip, hand tight against the hilts guard, knowing that the first strike will be the most important, and the most violent.
Five feet, I can feel my heart beating in my ears, my mouth dry, adrenaline spiking. I can smell her now, her old perfume drifting back to embrace me. Then, she chooses to turn right. Down the alley that I had chosen to use as my killing field. Choices. A small streetlight highlighting the alley forces me to stall and separate from my prey, backing off to fifteen feet away, calculating the risks, choosing to be patient and strike further down the alley.
Then, movement. Just ahead of her the shadows catch my eye, my muscles tense and my grip on my knife tightens as I suck into the shadows, treating the light as the sun and myself as Nosterafu. More movement, she sees it now too, her sixth sense triggering her reaction that failed to trigger just moments before as I was about to snatch the life out of her. Then it happens.

Two men jump from the dark walls of the alley, she lets out a scream and turns back towards me to flee, her beautiful red hair swinging with her movement as if it were a carpet of fire. I feel her gaze through me, terrified and blind. She lets a sharp scream as she is tackled by on of the men, bald, thin and covered in tattoos. They both tumble to the ground, her phone slides across the wet alley floor towards me as she hits the ground with an audible sound of flesh meeting cement. Messy. The second man, this one dressed all in black moves on top of her and quickly covers her mouth as she fights for her life.

“You fucking bitch, give us your purse or I’ll fucking cut you” the man in black says to her brandishing a blade smaller than mine.

Fucking amateurs, I think to myself in disgust and anger. Frustrated, I turn away towards the street, checking left and right for witnesses, police or stumbling drunks. No one in sight. These gangbanger fucks have ruined everything, now I must wait to feed my hunger. I stop at the threshold of the alley, her muffled screams still reaching me, fueling my anger of what just had transpired. Walk away. I tell myself to walk away looking towards the empty street, this is too messy, too much heat. I hear her beautiful scream again, as she fights for her life, the image of her freckled face and piercing blue stare flash in my mind… fuck it, I think to myself… Choices.

I turn away from my freedom in front of me and back towards the mess of bodies struggling on the ground. I breathe deeply and move quickly through the spotlight, knife gripped tight and behind my back. Ten feet, the man in black is straddling her, his blade out in front still threating to gut her if she does not comply. It is a shame that the gutting would be done be me instead. Baldy is moving towards the phone, located between myself and his fuckwit partner disrespecting my prey.

Five feet, no masking my hunt now, this is not stealth, this is violence. I break into a sprint as Baldy is bending over to pick up my gingers phone, he notices me but its too late. I think he attempts to scream as I bring my knife up into his throat with all of my force, cutting through his airway, vocal chords and corroded artery like butter. I grab the back of his head with my left hand to get more purchase and rip my knife across his neck, the stubble on the back of his head providing good grip to twist and torque the blade through his flesh and cartilage. I feel my arm and chest warm as his blood pours over me like a warm blanket. My momentum carries me through and he falls onto his back, me on top of his chest his pathetic screams muffles by my knife still in his throat, now nearly decapitated. I rip my knife free and plunge into what is remaining of his neck, the sound of the tip of my blade hitting the concrete beneath him side. Fuck you.

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Crouched over top his expiring body I raise my head to my next target, the man in black, eyeballs wide and white looking at me, no longer concerned about my angel beneath him. I stare at him, through him, slowly standing, his friends blood and flesh coating my hand. He says something as I start moving towards him, my angels sobs drowning out any response he could muster.

To my surprise he stood to meet me, leveling his blade in his right hand, shaking with fear, or anger for his brutally murdered friend behind me, whos’ throats last gasps for life filled the alleyway. The man in Black makes the first move. He lunges slashing wildly at my chest, his lack of skill with a blade showing itself. I sidestep his first swipe and move in on his right side, he comes down across with his blade once again, I lift my arm to take the hit, his blade slicing through my forearm, tearing muscle with ease. I did not notice the pain on impact as I drove my knife into his armpit as he connected his own strike. I let out a growl as he screamed, twisting my knife deep inside his chest cavity, severing his artery and separating tissue. Locking eyes with him as he realizes the fateful choice he made this night.

I knew that the wound I inflicted would eventually kill him, but anger and violence took over. I ripped the knife from his armpit and drove into his abdomen, just below his sternum, feeling the resistance of his organs as my blade burrowed itself deep. I stayed locked into his eyes as he realized what was happening to him, shock and fear overwhelmed him, eyes watering, weak noises emanating from his vocal cords. He raised his remaining working arm and grabbed at my throat, he was too weak to cause damage but I respected the effort. I turned my blade 90 degrees inside his stomach and brought him in close, using all my effort to torque his body and carve my knife across his gut, cutting through flesh and organs alike, disemboweling him. His innards falling onto my shoes and ground between us confirmed my intent. Violence.

He dropped to my side, crumpled and dying at my feet. My hands and chest oily and damp, covered in blood, the smell filling my head, the copper taste at the back of my throat. The rush crashing over me like a wave on the rocks. The most dangerous game. I took a deep breath of the cool night air, the low sound of the alleys light buzzing, filling the silence as I felt a smile tearing across my face. Then, whimpers, I looked to my left to find her against the wall, eyes wide and terrified as to what she had just witnessed. If only she knew what fate had waited for her before her choice to walk down this alley. This scene was blessing in comparison. I wiped my knife back and forth on my pants, wiping the pieces of organ, flesh and clotting away before sheathing it, thirst quenched, my hunger satisfied for the night.

I outstretched a blood-soaked hand to my ginger angel, to which she reluctantly took it. She was even more beautiful now more than ever, standing in a pool of blood from her attackers, her face dirtied, her eyes blue and gorgeous staring through me, half filled with tears… You are beautiful… This time, I did not say it, but that is all I could see, all I could feel. My girls in the freezer won’t be getting another roommate tonight. She will be free, free and alive to make more bad decisions. What if this is all of my prey deserve? They deserve to choose their fate. What about me? Is this what I am?

I look at her and gesture towards the main street, an escape from her nightmare. I felt my hand drift to my knife one again, maybe she should be with me tonight… Her gaze then travels back to mine, her eyes wide and scared, but something else. She was grateful. I loosened my grip on the knife and dropped my hand by my side. No words were exchanged as she pulled away from and began to ran, not looking back as she ran through the alley’s spotlight. Her hair on fire trailblazing through the night. I made my choice.

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Two years Later

I glance at my phone sitting on the liquor-stained table in front of me, 00:16, the night winding down. The solo artist on his stool serenading the tables in front of him is on his last set, couples and singles mingling throughout the bar. The dim lights glowing, warming the small venue, small conversations carrying throughout, a girls laughter cuts through, a pair looking at their phone, everyone drunk on the night.

Scanning the room, I see a brunette sitting at the bar alone, playing with the straw of her drink, her mind elsewhere and she looks over the bar. Her perfect hair flows over her shoulders and down her back, her lips bright red, a small smile playing across her face. An angel.

Chuckling, I smile to myself and take another drink, my pint getting warm indicating it is close to the end of the night. I look up again and see her looking back at me, dark eyes locked with mine, putting a spell on me. I force a smile and shift uncomfortably in my chair, my knife getting caught in my shirt. What is wrong with me, get it together, out of practice. I have not hunted in two years now, and I’ve forgotten how to fish a lifetime ago…

My heartrate increases a little as I see her casually hop down from her bar stool and move towards me, not breaking her sightline. Ten feet away now. Fuck, breathe. Five feet, my heart rate increasing, and my mouth is getting dry as I force another swig of my lukewarm pint.

“May I sit?” she says to me, a sly smile playing across her face, as she sits down across without waiting for my reply.

I slowly nod in approval as she already settles into her new spot, sipping on her drink, red lips wrapped around her straw. Her big brown eyes not breaking mine. You are beautiful.

“So, what’s your story? Do you always sit in the back and creep on lonely women?” she asks playfully, her hair dancing across her shoulders, her smooth skin soaking the orange glow of the lights around us.

“If only you knew” I responded equally as playfully, knowing if this were two years ago she would be in my freezer by daybreak.

She stirred her drink, contemplating how to respond, maybe trying to judge if I was a serial killer or perhaps only a former serial killer. One of those was correct. She lifted the glass up once more and finished her drink, seemingly satisfied with her inner monologue.

“Well, I live around the corner, lets get out of here and you can tell me all about it, yeah?” She finally responded.

“Yeah, I’d like that” I said, now my own inner monologue raging inside my head, my urges washing over me like I haven’t felt in years, my knife on my belt feeling like twenty pounds weighing me down, begging to quench her thirst one more time.

Without another word she stood up and began for the door. Finishing my pint as quickly as I could, wallet, keys, phone, check. I stood up and followed, her hips hypnotizing me on the way out. She pushed open the door as if she were exiting an old western saloon. My old western angel. I moved through the doorway, the fresh air washed over me, as I slowly attempted to clear my head, my inner battle to make the right choice raging.

“I’m Shannon, by the way.” She said as she lit a cigarette, “I feel like we should at least know each others’ names…”

“Colby” I returned the favour, trying not to portray my nerves getting to me, the urge to crack her skull open ripping through me.

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We walked side by side away from the strip, memories of stalking my ginger flashed through my mind, the adrenaline pumping. No cars, no witnesses, no muggers, I could just pull her into an alley and slit her throat, it would be so easy. No. That is not who I am anymore.

She finally turned into an apartment complex, reached into her purse, and plucked her keys to unlock her door. The complex was rundown, no security systems that I could observe and poorly lit, this could be my killing field, she would be all mine.

I followed her up the stairs, fantasizing about how I could finally stop these urges, how she could set me free from this torture. Maybe I will stab her in the back and throw her down the stairs, watching her body flail with every step, flesh and bone striking each stair with such satisfaction. Perhaps I would make her face me as I drive my knife under her jaw into her skull, feel her suffer but hold her close and comfort her while she passes. Choices.

We arrived at her door, she unlocked a series of locks and beckons me to follow her in, looking over her shoulder at me, brown hair running down her cheek. I follow her into her safe space, her sanctuary. If only she knew who she just let in…

Her place reminded me of my apartment, garbage behind her door, tiles in the kitchen which led into the living room and her bedroom off to the right, a soft orange glow from the streetlight peering through her bedroom curtains. A memory. Amy? Amanda? Her blond hair flowing across my pillow so many years ago. Shannon would look just as beautiful tucked away in that bed, peaceful and angelic. Stop.

She moved across the kitchen, the floor creaking with every step just as mine did, as she sat down and settled on the couch. Standing behind the couch I reached for my blade, gripped it tight and thought about driving it violently into her sub clavicle, watching as her chest cavity filled with blood and she slowly dies in front of me. I try to shake the thought.
“You are beautiful” I say to her, my hand still gripped around my knife, heart racing, palms sweating, that addicting feeling rushing through me again. The most dangerous game.

She slowly looks back at me and bites her lip. “You stay here, I’m going to go rinse off”

I had no response but to loosen my grip on my knife and let a small smile creep across my face. My eyes followed her walk across to her bathroom, she was floating. An angel floating through the clouds. As she closed the door behind her, I let out a sigh, what the fuck am I doing. You cannot murder her, that’s not who you are anymore. The sound of her shower was coming through the door now, a brief image of Psycho flashed across my mind. Really original Colby…

No. I am not murdering her, it was her choice to talk to me and it was her choice to let me in. It is my choice to resist, it is my choice to let her live. Choices define us.

I shook the thoughts from my head and moved to the kitchen and ran the water, taking a second to kick in. I took a generous handful and splashed it across my face, refreshing and clearing the fog in my head, washing away the thoughts of my future sins and bad decisions. I blindly reached for a towel and dabbed my face, the towel is crusty and soiled, but it did the trick. I threw it down on the counter and slowly turned around to face the kitchen. It was remarkably clean, no leftovers, no dirty dishes, immaculate.

I moved to the fridge and opened it hoping to find a beer to no avail. I moved to the cupboards and found an old bottle of Absolut. Finally. I could hear the shower still running in the background as I grabbed two glasses for our night cap and push my murderous thoughts deep down. I poured two generous servings, now all we need is ice, I thought to myself as I reached for the freezer door and slowly opened it, the cool air washing up my hand and across my arm.

My eyes widened as I peer inside, no it can’t be. Staring back at me were three imperfect heads, three murdered men with lifeless eyes, their hair frozen like statues, judging whoever opened their crypt. Shock, anger, surprise, respect, all feelings rushed through me at once. This cant be. All choices have led to this moment.

I did not choose her at that bar… she chose me. I chose to not kill her, and she… and she chose to kill me…

My adrenaline spiked as I reached for my knife. My senses now heightened, heartrate spiking, head pounding. That’s when I noticed that the shower has stopped running, and the creaking of the tiles behind me.

Credit: Logan Sloan

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