You check the time. 

The time is perfect. Your timing is impeccable.

You’ve arrived fashionably late.

That was how you intended to do it.

Arrive late.

Very fashionable.

Very deadly, too.

You are ready - for deadly or for anything else.

Your fingers slip noiselessly into your pockets, the right as well as the left. Each hand encounters what it seeks, what it craves. Something cool and smooth, something necessary, something potentially lethal. In each pocket, on each hip, something is there, but concealed. You move forward, trying to remain inconspicuous. You believe your effort is successful. You are hopeful.

You know you are prepared.

You have been preparing this, and preparing for this, for a long time.

Now it is time.

You only have one chance.

You are not fashionably late, not really. You are right on time. You hadn’t planned to arrive even a second earlier. It is the perfect hour, the best moment, to be moving toward the center of the large room. You hate large groups of people. You are mortified when you arrive at a place - like for a party - and there isn’t a single familiar face among all those before you. This is a very big gathering. Don’t think about that too much.

You do not want to be seen, do not want anybody to look up from their cups and conversations, and notice you. You have tried to dress properly, meaning that you have tried to dress as close as possible to everyone else. You look around skittishly, but nevertheless you have to check. You are trying to see how many of them also have hands in their pockets. It doesn’t matter whether it be one hand or two. You’re startled when some unknown thing brushes up against you, behind you. It could have been pure accident, but it could have been intentional. You are worried that there might be attempts to figure out why your hands are hidden. You are very glad you decided against any sort of hat or other headgear. Nobody else is wearing anything like that.

You look up and find the lighting to be overly harsh, glaring, oh, just go ahead and say it: revealing. It would be better to seek out a quiet corner next to some books or a mirror with flowers on a tiny shelf in front of it. You mustn’t take any risks, now that you’ve come this far. You are not the center-of-the-room type. You are nervous if you find that you’re the center of attention. That’s when you stammer and stumble.

You’ve come this far, yes, but how far will you actually go? There are a lot of them here and if you don’t fit in, there could be the Devil to pay. Speaking of the Devil, it’s the one inside you that put you up to this. Only a person with evil tendencies would consider doing something like you plan on doing. You can accept that about yourself, right? Just nod your head yes or no. Don’t say anything that would attract attention. You’ve come a long ways. No going back.

You refuse to believe you are evil, I know. You will not accept the blame for anything that might happen at this party. You are only here because you have no choice. I know. I would do the same thing if I were in your place. I really would, but I am not in your place. It’s all up to you.

You inch forward, your change of position almost imperceptible. You have scoped out most of the room by now and have selected a potential ‘quiet corner’ which will allow you to continue observing until it is time. You know it is safer to have your back against the wall. That way, nobody can sneak up behind you. You can’t allow anybody to interfere with your plan. Not this late in the game.

It won’t be long now. Will it?

Still, it is clear that you are having doubts about this. Why is that? You know who they all are, even if you’ve never actually met them. You know where they are from, their résumés, what they like for dessert. (Maybe the dessert part isn’t true…), their hobbies, what music they prefer for dancing. Actually, you’d rather not know anything about them, but you do.

You also have a good idea how many there are and where and for whom they work. There are a few who manage to elude you, though, but you have been able to spot them wandering among the others. The ones who are wandering around aren’t ghosts, because ghosts are white, but they are elusive as hell, and are a bit of a concern. Will they be able to sabotage your maneuver? They are making you uneasy, very uneasy. You need to control your nerves. You need to DO THIS.

For just a little while longer, you remain cool, not moving not twitching, a look of transparency on your face. You sip a fine champagne, hoping it will help you look like the other champagne-sippers. The choice of drinks was either champagne or beer, which had to be chugged, so you smartly chose the first beverage. You prefer sipping to any mundane conversation that might be initiated. Mundane is not your style. You prefer irksome, quirky, twisted, original. Upbeat, even.

You notice that at this point there is a flow of something - an aura, an inspiration, a glimmer of genius and it has been moving around the presences in the room. This factor is one that must be taken into account if you are to succeed in your mission. Don’t let that undefined flow take your attention away from your assignment, your task, your homework. When you go in for the kill, they must all know it and you want them to be too frightened to resist. You want to look them right in the eyes as you do them in. This might sound overly cruel, but it is actually the best way to proceed. Torture is not one of your specialties, no matter how cruel, insane, or gad-about these presences are.

Deep breath. Take a deep breath. This is going to take every last ounce of courage you have. You know it’s - how do they say it? - for the greater good. There are things in the world that must be eradicated and you have accepted the call to arms.

It is time.

What seems to be metal slams into everything in the room, but surprisingly does not put gashes or holes in the walls. It stops dead in the presences, who lie lifeless, strewn over just about every square inch of the hardwood floor. Arms and legs askew, layered, lined with grit and guts. You stare, amazed at what you’ve done. You’ve just mown down an entire ballroom (the ballroom part might be an exaggeration) and nothing is left standing. You have just massacred everything in sight. It took but a few seconds for you to wipe everything out. How did you manage to fit all that in your two hip pockets?

What have you done? You ask that now, when you’re the one who waited until it was late enough for everyone to be present who had planned to attend. You were patient, because you wanted everything to go according to plan. You aimed and you fired. Everyone has just toppled over. It sort of reminds you of “The Masque of the Red Death,” that story by Poe about the Black Plague. The mass of bodies with their life’s blood stopped cold. Not splattered.

This is a slaughter. You are not surprised..

There is gore everywhere. You are amazed at how much gore there is, in fact. (Although the amount might be a tad exaggerated.) There can be no survivors, because your aim is good and you had no pity for the ones responsible for making you do this. It’s too bad about all those nice clothes. Some attendees much have arrived in nice cars, but there will be no way to return home in those vehicles, because they are no longer alive.

This is no time to let your conscience bother you. You merely did what was necessary. Necessary and justified. You are not a cruel person. You did this because it was the only option you had.

The police arrive. They are horrified at the scene of carnage, total carnage. They are slightly pleased, however, that the walls have not become tainted. There are no splatters, no art on the walls has been damaged, no furniture has been upended by panicky crowds heading for the exits. You have done an admirable job containing them. Still, it’s a big mess and will have to be cleaned up.

The police pick their way among the deceased and reach the safe corner where you are standing. You do not plan to resist. It is obvious what has occurred. You will be given a trial and will have to accept your punishment. As you are led off to jail, you are momentarily concerned about what might happen to you, but you have faith in the justice system.

You are on the stand now, aware that many people are staring at you and whispering, speculating. Some are screaming for the death penalty, while others just shake their heads and look puzzled. Your lawyer does not look very optimistic, but this does not concern you. The other witnesses have testified and you are the only one left to explain why you felt the need to eliminate so many.

You are calm despite the tension all around the courtroom. You have your answer ready. It is a good answer, well-prepared.

How do you plead?

I plead guilty. I am very proud that I am guilty. It was not easy to do what I did, you know.

A hush, or a pall, falls over the courtroom. Whispers of the people supporting the death penalty buzz about, randomly, but don’t increase in volume. Nobody ever is proud to be guilty, so you must be mad. Insanity must be the reason for the tragic event. Buzzing continues.

You are not insane. I am not insane, you assert.

Why did you do it It is natural for the judge, for everybody, to ask.

You have your answer all ready and you stand up straighter, stiffer, taller.

Your Honor (you are aware that this is the proper way to address a judge), I am guilty of removing all those cruel, hypocritical, insensitive people. Even though I did not know each one personally, they taunted me, they tormented me. They never left me in peace.

How can this be, if you didn’t know them?

Trust me. I lived with them for years and years. They wanted to see me fail, they called me names, they were jealous of me. They did everything they possibly could to trap me and stop me. If there had been any other way of dealing with them, believe me, I would not have chosen the method I did.

The method you chose was fatal, brutal.

Your Honor, I do not deny that, but desperation can lead a person to do desperate things.

Nothing justifies a full-scale slaughter.

Oh, but it does. They had sentenced me to silence for years and years. I had to break free or it was going to be the death of me.

Isn’t that being a little over-dramatic?

Not at all, Your Honor. Those people, or presences, followed me around, sat on my shoulders, first left then right, and made inaudible (except to me) comments about me. They refused to let me work. They belittled me, they made up mean stories, they said I plagiarized.

Is that all? That is hardly reason enough to kill them, is it?

Oh, yes, Your Honor, it was. Perhaps you don’t comprehend how a person like me starts to feel when you see your life’s work - poof! - go up in smoke. Not literally, of course, but when your life’s work disintegrates, washes away, gets shredded into…

Please stick to the facts.

These are the facts, Your Honor. My work was shredded, tossed in the trash, slammed on social media. I was a martyr. Not a day went by without their threatening to expose me as a fraud, or an incompetent, or worse. Surely you don’t believe I deserved all that abuse? Surely one has the right to self-defense?

There are times when self-defense is justified, yes.

Well, there you have it, your honor. I defended my right to have a decent career, to develop my skills, and to be successful in the eyes of the world.

That defense cannot come at the expense of all those lives who were just innocently attending a party.

Your Honor, it could and did. That party was public, but the ones present had no right to be there. They were all rejects, worthless rejects, and deserved what they got.


Your Honor, they were my creations. I wrote them and I decided to take them away. They were failures, sloppily drawn or written, unable to fulfill the roles assigned to them. They were dangerous and had to go before anybody could link them to me.

You’re happy the judge has declared you innocent and has released you so you can return home and finish what you started at the party. The targets were not all there and you have still more work to do. Tonight you will finish. You will remove the figures with names as well as the nameless ones, from your files. You will delete the negative remarks by all those idiot critics. You will throw several drafts of two novels into the fire. You will start over and do it right this time.

You will be a writer. A good one.

You don’t want to kill anybody.

June 23, 2020 19:42

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Praveen Jagwani
03:14 Jun 25, 2020

A new twist on character assassination :) Well done Kath. Some great word play as usual. And Poe strikes again :) A tad long you think ?


Kathleen March
04:31 Jun 25, 2020

It surprises me how much longer the stories look when submitted. None of my stories is over 3000 words and most are 2500 or so. However, maybe you mean the story should have been shorter to be effective. I will definitely give that some thought.


Praveen Jagwani
04:57 Jun 25, 2020

Easy for you to say, since your stories write themselves :)) In my case, it is like treading treacle and I start gagging around the 900 word mark :) The last 100-150 words are like pulling teeth.


Kathleen March
12:47 Jun 25, 2020

If I get to 1000 words without suffering, then I figure I’m home-free. Some stories do get written in a single sitting. More than two sittings means trouble.


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Batool Hussain
07:47 Jun 24, 2020

Great story!


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Waverley Stark
07:46 Jun 24, 2020

Chilling story... very well done especially when describing the slaughter. I thought the way you described their deaths was interesting and different, and the fact that the character might have exaggerated some stuff was funny. Feedback: Only thing is, I couldn't tell who was making him kill everyone. I heard 'you don't feel guilty for what they're making you do' but I couldn't connect that to anything. That's it! Great job on the story! Oh, and check out "Maggots and Adverbs" by Harkin Void. I thought it was a clever read that deserved ...


Kathleen March
12:32 Jun 24, 2020

Thank you for the comments. So many times when a mass killing happens, it’s not clear at first. On the other hand, if this is an author getting rid of writer’s block... drastic measures are sometimes needed. Also, don’t assume the killer is a man... haha!


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This was a bit confusing. Was the main character an author?


Kathleen March
02:25 Jun 24, 2020

Sure, why not?


Great! Lol.


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