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“That will be all for today, Miss Marcia,” my interviewer sneered at me, his eyes momentarily leaving the documents in front of him. “Sit out in the waiting hall, we will have the results soon.” 


“Thank you for your time,” I spoke softly with a smile, forcing my eyes open and holding back the tears I could feel welling. I am not going to give them another reason not to hire a woman. I was stronger than this, I can take their words and negativity.


The hall only had two other people in it, one man who met me in height but was built like a warrior. His focus was sharp, staring a hole into the ground while gripping his chair almost hard enough to break the arms off the frame, huffing at every person who dared to walk past him. The second one looks as if he was going to pass out any second, the smell of liquor drenching his whole aura. He was wearing clothes that look like they were used to mop up a pigsty.


Neither of these men, in my opinion, was capable of doing this job. I never like to judge those I barely know, but I know that I am the best candidate for the job. I was the one with the education, the freshly ironed clothes, the kindness that serves the sick best.


But I know the job isn’t going to be. After sixteen failed interviews, I should already know it’s not going to be me. It’s nothing more than a stupid dream.


“Are those chocolate chip cookies in your bag?” a voice beside me asked. I turn my head so quick I bump my head on the wall.


“Sorry,” I chirp, still trying the settle my surprise. Next to me is a tiny redhead, hands already moving through the contents of my purse, grabbing at the small bag of cookies. “Yes, they are chocolate chip.” I answer her, but this strange girl didn’t even bother waiting for my response before helping herself to the cookies.


“Good, I hate oatmeal raisin cookies, disgusting lumps of shit.” She mumbled through crumbs of my cookies. “What brings you to the city of the sick?” She asks me after licking the chocolate off of her fingers. “Let me guess, Darling, your rich family, is sending you here to hide the shame you bring to the family. No wait, husband thinks that you’re too paranoid, so he is sending you here so he can sleep around with other women.”


“My husband would never do that!” I found myself getting upset while the redhead did nothing but laugh. Her teeth were shining through, showing off a mouth full of sharp, cannibalistic teeth. “He is a good man,” I spoke again, minding the tone of my voice, unable to look away from the mouth in front of me.


“Then why would you voluntarily come to this hellhole?” She questioned, her hands again filing through my belonging. Before I could stop her this time, she pulled out my resume. “You want to work here? That is quite a terrible choice, Darling.” Her voice sung the word, ‘Darling’, no one else called me that. Why did that make me feel so weird? This is enough.


“Yes, I do want to work here. I’m Valentina Marcia.” I offer my hand to her to shake, regretting it almost instantly after I remember seeing her lick her hands clean.


“I know,” She scoffed. “Adelita Rubio, at your service.” Her grip was firm for such a small girl, she must only barely come up to my shoulders.


“Are you a nurse here?” I ask her. The only people I have seen enter this room was various state hospital workers and the other job candidates.


“Nope, I live here as a patient. It’s quite the drag.” Adelita responded, slurring her words and leaning in closer to me.


“I thought this room was off-limits to patients?” This conversation is getting weirder by the minute.


“It is, but that doesn’t stop me.” She smirked. “It’s a little game we play.”


“With who?”


“My ward attendant, oh how he hates me.” Adelita laughed, and I have to admit it was quite the beautiful sound. “I assume that’s the job you are trying for?”


“Yes,” I sigh, looking over the other two again, Adelita’s eyes following alongside mine.


“Based on your resume, you are worth much more than what this dump could offer you.” She turned her attention towards me again, poking a finger at my chest, momentarily stunning me from the push of my personal bubble. “It’s these bastards, ain’t it?”


“That’s none of your concern,” I stumble through my words. “But yes, I do wish I could do more in the world of psychology, but my outward appearance may be what is stopping me.”


“A man will never accept a woman’s worth until they are begging for their mercy,” Adelita commented before moving on before I could ask her what she meant. “The world of science is quite a big one, lots of bullshit to learn. Have you ever read The Mask of Sanity?”


“Of course, I have!” I could feel my heart pumping harder from the excitement, pulling my annotated version from my purse. The cover was tattered, but it was still my most prized possession. “I love Hervey Cleckley, I studied his work for my final year. You read his work?”


“I stole it from one of the doctors, jerk is still looking for it.” She chuckled to herself, taking the book without asking me once again. “If you like psychology that much, why don’t you something greater?” She asked as if it was easy.


“It would be my dream, but I don’t know how I could do it.” I sighed, taking back the book as Adelita hands it to me. The feeling of leather brings such comfort. The book is such a genius.


“Sometimes the answer is right in front of your face,” Adelita deadpanned, tilting her head. I looked back at the book, and that’s when it hit me.


“I could do my own research and write my own book! That would get me a place along with the other members of the psychology community!” I cheered quietly to myself.


“What a wonderful idea,” Adelita chimed in. “What would you write about?”


“I’d love to study abnormal psychology,” my mind was racing with all the possibilities this could take me. “But so many others have already done that, maybe it won’t be enough.”


“Then you need to do something that hasn’t been done before, study someone far greater than any other has.” 


“Where would I find someone like that?” I ask her, feeling dread pooling in my stomach. It sounds more and more like a dream.


“What about a serial killer?” Adelita got closer in, I could feel her breath on my cheek. “A serial killer gets everyone interest. They may say they are afraid, but deep down, they know it’s real excitement they are feeling.”


“That would truly be a dream, a gateway ticket to the perfect research book,” I admitted. “Unfortunately they don’t run rampant for the public to greet.”


“What if I told you I know a serial killer?” Adelita started, getting my full attention.


“Your lying; you know a serial killer?”


“Indeed,” she gleamed. “The Scarlet Reaper and I are friends, she told me everything.” Her smile was bright, and my hopes were back up. 


“You would be willing to help me?” I let my happiness get the best of me before remembering my chances of getting the job. I sigh and let my head drop again. “I appreciate the offer, I really do, but it’s no use. There is no way I am getting this job, and I doubt they let the patients here mingle freely with those who don’t work here.” Adelita forcefully lifted my head back up, looking me straight in the eye.


“Leave all that to me. Before the weeks’ end, that job will be yours.” She hummed and reassured every doubt that I shot at her.


“Why are you doing all this for me? It seems unfair to you.” I listen to her chuckle and watch as she throws away the empty bag used to hold my homemade cookies.


“The only thing I require from you is more sweet treats.”


*****


She didn't get the job at first, but Adelita didn’t lie, Red Rose State Hospital called her not even four days later to offer her the job. Valentina didn’t know what Adelita did, but she felt grateful for the deal she made with Adelita.


Every day she came with a new treat for her; cookies, cakes, muffins, and anything else Valentina could find in a recipe book. In exchange, Adelita told the stories she knew about ‘The Scarlet Reaper’, the serial killer who killed her victims in all different ways, but always leaving her name carved into the unfortunate victim’s chest.


Valentina cherishes the stories she hears, compiling her own book from all that she learned about the serial killer’s tendency. She wrote them all down, unaware that they were coming from the mouth of the killer herself.


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11 comments

Nandan Prasad
03:52 Jun 27, 2020

Really wonderful story! The humour is good and the twist in the end is unexpected. Really well-written. Also, would you mind checking out my story if it's not too much trouble? Thanks and good luck!

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Steve Stigler
13:12 Jun 25, 2020

This story really stood out from the crowd for me, so thanks for sharing it! In addition to the comments others have made, I would add that I was a little uncertain of exactly how young Adelita is, based on her diction and actions. Also, does this take place a little further in the past, as the language seems to suggest? This is the line that made me want to keep reading: “Good, I hate oatmeal raisin cookies, disgusting lumps of shit.” That made me laugh out loud. I agree with the others - you've got something here.

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Lynn Penny
18:25 Jun 25, 2020

Thanks, that means a lot to me. Simple Minds is my passion project so I’m glad it caught your attention. Adelita is 18-19 while Valentina is 25. It’s set it the 1950s but I’m still working on how to realistically implement it.

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Rahul Ramesh
03:18 Jun 25, 2020

Hi! Reedsy asked me to check out your story to cultivate a critique circle here. so, Here we go. I'm glad the problem with tenses have already been pointed out so that I don't have to go to the line editing part. I will focus on the developmental section (The plot) and give my observations. The ending was a little predictable. Try adding more layers to shock the audience on the big reveal. It is exactly what I did with the short story I submitted, the first domino. Feel free to read through it and let me know how good or bad of an execut...

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Lynn Penny
03:42 Jun 25, 2020

Thanks for the feedback, I appreciate it. I agree that the ending was a bit lacklustre, kinda saddens me, but my idea for simple minds is more fit for a novel vs a short story, so I was just fooling around with the characters, experimenting with their tones.

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Arya Preston
03:12 Jun 21, 2020

That last line just shifted the entire tone of your story! This is quite an intriguing take on the prompt and now that I look back, there's a lot of foreshadowing. Great story :)

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Lynn Penny
17:13 Jun 21, 2020

Thanks! I'm aiming for the novel to be a psychological thriller so that meant a lot. :)

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Praveen Jagwani
01:59 Jun 21, 2020

This story has legs Lynn :) A little bit of editing should do it. For example some sentences switch between past & present tense : He was wearing clothes that look like they were used to mop up a pigsty. Couple of logic issues : I don't see how one can bump their head on the wall by turning in the direction of the voice. If the hospital asked Marcia to wait outside, why did they respond after 4 days? Also a cheeky title could be Cookie Monster. Overall, its a good plot. Thank you for sharing :)

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Lynn Penny
17:12 Jun 21, 2020

Thanks! I struggle with first person present tense so I'm still working on the wording. This is just a concept piece from a novel I'm working on, so there are still a bunch of technical errors, didn't help that I didn't write this until friday afternoon. I appreciate the feedback :)

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P. Jean
18:31 Jul 04, 2020

Super job and I was delighted to see you got so many really excellent comments. A very good sign you have talent. Keep writing. Talent. Yes!

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Lynn Penny
20:36 Jun 19, 2020

This is a concept piece from my current WIP. I apologize in advance for the spelling and grammar, I hope you enjoy it.

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