He had a fetish. Before he took them, he wanted them to know he was around -looming, waiting and when he got them paranoid enough, he struck! He had always liked tall, slim and “homely” looking young ladies. He had first met the last two at a grocery store doing a little shopping, and then he had stalked them. He made it look like random coincidences like he would follow them to a grocery store and walk past their cart, staring at them, making sure they saw his face. Then he would follow them to an eatery and sit at a table next to them. He always attacked when he was sure they recognized him. He got an adrenaline rush when they had that expression of familiarity and swift change to panic.
He sat at the café nursing a cup of tea. He preferred tea to coffee - he didn’t get why people drank coffee. It had been almost a week since his last kill and he was beginning to get restless. He needed the rush soon but he had to wait for things to cool down a bit since the police were beginning to get anxious over all the murders and were desperately looking for a win. Besides, every young lady in the city was alert and went into panic mode the moment you stared at them funny and that won’t do. He thought about leaving the city for a little vacation elsewhere and feeding his lust before resuming here. He finished his cup of tea and concluded that he was going on vacation.
He began to wonder if he made the right decision the minute his plane touched down on the small and quiet town. He took his bags and headed to the hotel he had booked earlier, only stopping once to check the closest store. He knew he would need some time to get familiar with the area before he could follow anyone around without getting into trouble. But one thing seemed sure - he was definitely going to enjoy this challenge.
He walked into a quaint little restaurant. The bell at the door rang to announce his entrance and all eyes turned on him. There were about 8 people scattered around, eating and drinking. He walked to the furthest end of the restaurant and took a seat facing the entrance. A cute dark waitress began to approach his table. She immediately caught his attention. As she came closer, he gave her a quick once over. She was his “type” - petite, tall and her face portrayed a certain innocence. She barely looked at him, she seemed preoccupied with whatever was on her mind. She murmured a soft “what can I get you?” and he placed his order. As she walked away after taking his order, he decided that she was going to be his first kill here. He finished his meal and went back to his hotel feeling satisfied.
Two days later, he looked as Waitress Girl crossed the road and entered the gym carrying her gym bag. She looked even prettier than when he had seen her at the restaurant. He followed her into the gym and pretended to inquire about how to register for a membership. From the corner of his eyes, he saw her go into the changing room and come back out. He walked up behind her, brushing her softly as he walked past her. He saw her turn to see who touched her, she looked at him blankly but turned and continued her stretches.
Waitress Girl was getting dressed, he could see her from her bedroom window. She seemed to be having a difficult time choosing what to wear. He saw her answer her phone after two rings and talk excitedly to the caller. She then promptly picked one of the dresses, wore it and ran downstairs. Shortly afterwards, a car pulled up and she came out of the house eagerly, got into the car and kissed the driver just before they drove off.
After debating with himself for a short while, he decided to follow them. He sat at a table adjacent where she was seated, facing her. He saw it the moment it happened - the look of recognition. He saw her thoughtful expression as she tried to recollect from where she had seen him. Then, her expression slowly morphed from thoughtfulness to panic as she remembered just who he was. He saw her lean over to tell her date something, the date turned looked at him, turned back and said something to her.
He gave a wry smile. She was ready.
He entered her apartment quietly; picking the lock was quite easy. He stood quietly in her room for a few minutes, taking in the sweet scent of her perfume. Her perfume smelled of flowers in the summer, he could stay there all night just breathing the fresh scent. He was wearing a raincoat and had used a plastic bag to wrap his shoes before he entered the house. He sat gently on the bed, wore his gloves and began the wait. He was tempted to lie down but he didn’t want to risk falling asleep. He could imagine how frightened she would be to come home to meet a stranger in her bed. He wondered what he would do if she didn’t come home. He looked at his watch, it was 11:30pm, he figured she would be home in 30 minutes or less and if she wasn’t, he would leave.
He heard the car pull up to the front of the house. He walked over to the window and looked out. He watched as she got out, kissed her date goodnight and headed into the house. He went and stood behind the door and waited. She saw him immediately she closed the door and he pounced on her before she could utter a word.
He never slept with his victims, he wasn’t attracted to them in that way. He just enjoyed cutting them up, watching them try to beg for their lives but being unable to. He watched her now; tied to her bed, mouth gagged, eyes wide open - wondering what she had done to deserve this. He was going to really enjoy this one.
Mildred entered the antique store and looked around, she couldn’t see the clerk anywhere. She tried to remember what she had come to buy. She looked at the paper she had in her hand and saw the list she had written. A vase - that’s what she had come for. The store wasn’t large; it had about five aisles with various lovely antique items on display. She walked around till she found the aisle with vases. She was trying to decide which to go for when she heard her name being called. A young man was standing at the counter smiling, she wasn’t sure she knew him but he seemed to know her quite well.
“How are you doing today?” he asked gingerly
“I’m good”, she paused to stare at him closely. He seemed familiar but she couldn’t quite remember.
“I’m Mike, Alfred’s son. He owns the bakery downtown”. She saw a look flash across his face, was that pity?
“Oh. I’m so sorry, how are you?
“I’m fine. How may I help you?
“I want this vase”, she picked the vase she had decided on and headed to the counter. After making payments she started out the door and headed to her apartment.
Her house wasn’t far from the store so she strolled slowly towards it. She suddenly started humming a song that had been stuck in her head all morning. Just as she was about to turn onto her street, a young man walked up behind her. She turned to see what was happening and he handed her a flyer. She muttered thank you and watched him walk away. He looked energetic and had an almost handsome face, she looked at the flyer to see what he was inviting her for. She might just go and hopefully see him again. She was confused when she looked at the flyer as it was for a play that was happening in another city. She turned it over, hoping he had written his number on the back but didn’t see anything. She tossed the flyer and headed home.
She entered her apartment just as her phone stopped ringing. She quickly hurried over to where she left it on the couch. It was her sister, Rose, calling. She thought about not calling back but decided against it. Her sister worried about her a lot for some reason and if she didn’t call back she would just end up knocking on her front door. She sat on the couch and dialed her number, Rose picked on the first ring.
“Why weren’t you picking?” Rose inquired immediately she picked up. “There is a killer on the loose, I need to be sure you are safe”
“I am safe Rose. Thank you very much” she answered sarcastically. She was tired of her sister “babying” her. They weren’t kids anymore, she didn’t have to protect her anymore. She got up and walked over to the stove to boil some water. She talked to her sister for a while till her water was ready and then she got off the phone. She was suddenly tired and decided to take a nap.
Mildred woke up the next day and felt like she needed to take a stroll, she picked a pen and paper to write a list. Might as well run some errands while she’s out. After writing what turned out to be a very short list, she took a bath, got dressed and went out the door.
He watched Mildred lock her door and head out the house. She was wearing the same clothes she had worn for the last 4 days. He began to wonder if she had a lot of the same style of clothes or she was simply just wearing one over and over again. What was beginning to aggravate him was the fact that he had all but stood in front of her over the last few days and she never seemed to recognize him. She just looked past him like just another stranger. He sat in his rental car seething, wondering whether to give up on her and find someone else or even just return home. The waitress had been an easy kill and the cops weren’t prowling the streets just yet because they think her boyfriend is the killer and they already had him in custody. He watched her go to the antique store once again, he figured she was doing some sort of business with the owner or sleeping with him. He was getting frustrated. He never stalked anyone this long. After the 3rd or 4th time they saw him, they usually recognized him. He got out of the car and headed into the store. He knew he was being careless but he didn’t care anymore, he just wanted to get this over with so he could go back home.
The clerk looked up as he entered and gave a little wave, he waved back and moved out of his line of sight. He saw Mildred looking at some vases and the clerk hovering, he wondered if she was some sort of vase collector. He hovered over an aisle that displayed antique pocket watches and watched Mildred head to the counter to pay. He walked briskly toward the door when he saw her start to head out, he held the door open for her while looking at her pointedly with just a little smile just to get some form of recognition. She gave him a little thank you nod and headed her way. He took a deep breath to help control his temper because he was close to losing it. How could she still not see him even when he was right in front of her? Oh! he was going to kill her whether she recognized him or not and he was going to do it tonight! She had gotten on his last nerves.
“Are you sure he’s the one?, Rose asked nervously. She was seated in a motel room with her husband and about 5 police officers. She had been surprised when Detective Ralph and his colleagues had knocked on her door a few days earlier. They had asked to speak with her and proceeded to tell her how her sister was being stalked by a suspected murderer. She was ready to race over to Mildred's house but they explained to her that it was necessary she stayed away to enable them catch the guy. This is why they came to her instead of Mildred to avoid taking the risk of alerting him that they knew what he was up to.
“It has to be him”, Detective Ralph responded. He was staring intently at a computer screen, trying to read a document. “Two of his victims had called to report being followed and they gave a description that fit him. Unfortunately, their calls weren’t taken seriously till after their deaths…”
He pulled out his phone, dialed a number and spoke to someone on the other end for a few minutes then hung up. “Don’t worry, your sister would be safe. We just need to catch him in the act.”
Detective Ralph had been investigating the case for over a year now and was eager to catch the creep stalking and killing women. They had been worried he had disappeared when they suddenly lost track of him, only to hear about the poor waitress. They had run a search and found out that he arrived at the town only a few days before her death. He and his team had hurried over immediately, they found out where he was staying and camped close by watching his every move. Their theory was that he followed the ladies around for about 2 to 3 days before attacking them, but this was more than 5 days after and he still hadn’t done anything. Ralph’s enthusiasm was beginning to falter. He wondered what was going through the psychopath’s mind. He seemed to be waiting for something and nobody knew what. Detective Ralph stepped out to take some air in the still night when his phone began ringing noisily jarring him back to reality. The person on the other end simply said: “He’s in her house”. Detective Ralph opened the door, barked some orders at his men, told Rose and her husband to stay put and ran off towards the direction of Mildred's house.
He stood over her bed staring at her angrily as she slept soundly. She was oblivious to how angry she made him. He had a mind to just bash her head in with the night lamp beside her bed and be over with it, but he knew better than to do that. She was a deep sleeper and didn’t made a move to wake up even as he tied her up. It was only when he was about to gag her that she woke up but it was too late to make a sound. He looked at her wondering what she was thinking. She still didn’t look at him like she had seen him before. He was still just a stranger to her. Well, she would see him now, even if it was the last thing she saw. He went to his bag to get out his carving knife and was about to take the first cut when the door burst open.
Detective Ralph sat opposite him in the interrogation room. His name was Austin. Such a weak name for a killer. Didnn't fit the profile. However, he was a junior staff at a computer hardware store. That fit the profile better.
“So what’s the story? Why did you kill those women?”, Detective Ralph asked. He was always amazed at the stories they came up with and was waiting to hear this.
“I just wanted them to know I was there. People never seemed to see me”
“How did you do it?”
“I saw them, I stalked them and made sure they recognized me before I killed them”
“Yes. You had to see me first. I enjoy the panic look when they realized they had seen me at several places and that I might be stalking them”. Detective Ralph studied him closely. He didn’t seem remorseful for what he had done. If anything, he seemed to relish the memories. “They always recognized me. I didn’t want to be a stranger you know, except this one”. His voice turned angry as he spoke of Mildred. “I needed them to actually see me, they all did. Except her! Well, now she would never forget me”, he smirked.
Detective Ralph began to laugh, he couldn’t help himself. “Guess what, Austin?” he said amid laughter.
“What?" Austin asked, confused as to why the detective was laughing hysterically.
“She still wouldn't know you if you put your picture on her wall. She was never going to see you and she never will”
“She has Alzheimer’s disease. You were and will always be a stranger to her”
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You asked for feedback so here I am: Wow this story surprised me! You build the tension nicely and capture the killer's obsessions very well. I adore the irony at the end. A few minor things: farther instead or further (further is metaphorical distance). 'Put on' his gloves rather than 'wore'. There are a few punctuation errors but those are easily identified in a quick read- through. The only major thing is I felt the ending didn't suffice. I absolutely love how Mildred can't remember him, it's like torturous comeuppance for Austin, I lo...
Oh wow! your comment is very insightful.. thanks for reading thoroughly and leaving feedback. I get what you mean about the ending, I would have gone on but I had used up my word count in the earlier part of the story so I had to wrap up as quickly as I could. I really appreciate your response. Thank you.
I get it :) Another thing I thought of was that your story incorporates both mental and physical struggles very vividly. Then the ending is merely mental. Bringing some physical struggle would continue the theme and be satisfying. Anyway, I thought you did a great job with the limited word count.
Nice story! I really liked it! The end was very interesting. All I can say is keep up the good work!
Thanks a lot!
Even as a coffee-lover (!) I really liked this. I would also definitely like to encounter Detective Ralph in other stories too. Don't disappoint me :-)
:-) I won't disappoint you... Thanks so much for the comment.
This is an excellent read!! It's been awhile since I read a story that caught me from the very first line. I appreciate your writing and hope you do more!
Thank you!! I'm so glad you enjoyed it.
This was a great read! The opening in particular was very strong. Having the killer be nameless until the very end works really well, it makes him creepy, like he could be anyone! I don't really have suggestions about what to change, because it reads very well! Perhaps the paragraph about the detective could be shortened, since it's not strictly necessary for the reader to have that backstory and know about Ralph's theories. Or you could have Ralph act in a particular way that makes it clear to the reader that he's been on this case for a...
Thanks a lot for your comment. I'm glad you liked it!
As an author, you take us through an adventurous story where Mildred is seen to be vulnerable when really Austin is. I really enjoyed this story and the twist to the end. This way, it shows Austin’s work was put at no use and he still ‘may’ have charges against him. Between each work you have messages being brought through; and the one I saw was that stalking, killing and murdering people is out at no use. I thoroughly enjoyed this story. I can’t really think of anything I would say could be different but I would say: “When’s part 2 out?...
Thanks so much for your comment... Would def let you know when part 2 is out...hehehe
Great entry for this prompt! There are some minor mistakes, but besides that, the plot was exciting! I can't wait to read more of your stories! ^^
Thank you for reading and commenting. I appreciate it...