I'm Not Going To Tell You To Calm Down But You're Not Going To Like The Alternative

Submitted into Contest #54 in response to: Write a story about high school sweethearts coming across one another after many, many years apart.... view prompt

16 comments

Romance Thriller

There was very little light in the parking lot, which was going to make my job much easier to do, but also presented issues. The women I pick have one thing in common, they need to look like her. The one. The only one. Danae. But in this double-edged illumination I can only make a rough estimation. She is older, I think, than I usually go for. Definitely older than the seventeen year old girl I had fallen in love with almost a decade earlier. However my hunger is too great. I am driven by a need that can only be spoken in the language of stabbing and slashing. Choking and striking. And I must speak. She will have to do.


I put my mask on. The fools have made it so easy these days to evade their cameras and facial detection software. I sneak up on her with a stealth that was etched into me through a childhood of gymnastics and dance, then augmented in my late teens with parkour. She doesn't hear or see me coming. Mask - bam! Injection of a cocktail of sedatives - BOOM! She is putty in my arms and I easily drag her back to the van.


Before you start judging me, I am not some cliche. I will not justify the van with a soliloquy on the practical merits of adhering to that cliche. I got it from a neighbor super cheap less than a month after my last car had broken down. It was providence, albeit fatally so.


My neighbor was an old woman named Betty who hated everything more than anyone I have ever met. She was full of so much venom and vitriol for the world that I could not help but love her. Even when she turned her bitterness and spite at me, I had to admire her. I recognized that she was just like me, but without an outlet. She complained, I killed. If she wasn't already suckling towards death's nipple I would have taught her, but it was too late, so I just enjoyed her company and tried to be as helpful as she would allow me to be whenever I could.


When she died, and no it wasn't me, her son sold me the van for a hundred bucks. He didn't need it, or want it, and was baffled by the fact that his mother had spoken so highly of me on a few occasions. "I mean, she didn't even like me, let alone love me, but she seemed to think the world of you. You got a pen so I can sign over the title?"


So that is why I have a van, not because I am some kind of pragmatic murder artist stereotype.


Anyhow, I have this girl in my van, and she may or may not be a passable analog for Danae, but I am about to find out. First I have to drive to a secluded place, but not so secluded as to appear out of place, and wait for the first wave of the drugs to wear off. I am not sure if I am just unusually lucky in this way, or what, but however long it takes to find the second location almost always seems to coincide with the amount of time it takes my victim to start regaining consciousness. Sure enough this time is no different, and almost immediately after I park I hear the groans and coughs that accompany the process of coming to. The mask can never come off until they have come to. That is one of the few rules I have. Well, you might call it a rule, but for me it's more like a kink. That's how I float my goat. There is beauty in ritual, and satisfaction in controlled restraint.


Well I take the mask off, and what do you know, it actually IS Danae. We recognize each other right away. She laughs and looks relieved, like this is some kind of practical joke, and she is going to be safe after all. This is super fucking embarrassing for me.


I don't want to kill Danae. In fact that might ruin everything for me. It might satiate the hunger that I thrive on. I want nothing less than to kill Danae, but sooner or later she will say something to somebody and that will be the beginning of the end for me. So I stall, and make small talk.


The first thing I want to ask is why she just so happens to be here right now, a few states away from where we grew up, and not back home with her husband and their young son. But if I do that she will know this is not an intentional, good-spirited kidnapping, and its game over, so I change the subject to her and she starts telling me all about her life. She is incredibly boring. I remember why we didn't work out now. So much inane jabber. Couldn't do it. She notices that I am no longer paying attention and starts to look around the van.


"Hey, what is this? I assumed it was just one of your famously bad jokes, but I am starting to get creeped out. Why haven't you untied me?"


"Listen," I say. "This is very awkward for me. I am so ashamed right now. The truth is, I didn't mean to kidnap you. I was trying to kidnap somebody who looks like you used to."


I stop to think carefully about what I am going to say next. Not for her sake, but mine. I don't want to remember this one as the one where I got all flustered and lost control. This one has to be perfect. Also, she is older, but she is very attractive. Still chatters gratuitously, but looks damn good doing it.


The silence grows too much between us and she becomes obligated to break it. I should have said something else sooner. Something mysterious but profound. Deeply dark, or darkly deep. But now she is pleading with me, which is always my least favorite part. I hear some guys get off on that, but not me - I hate it. It's just pathetic. It makes me feel like I am killing some helpless lamb, instead of a fully self-actualized human being.


Yet it turns out this is a good thing, because suddenly I remember the first awareness of this urge I have. I remember the desire to choke the life of her way back then when she got like this. Her hysteria, though completely understandable for a teenager, awakened something in me that could see things the old me could not see. I could see the power and gratification in just wrapping my hands around her fucking throat and...

August 13, 2020 00:08

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16 comments

Cynthia Cronan
12:08 Aug 21, 2020

Joshua - "Deeply dark, or darkly deep," gave your murderous character a touch of humanity and provided the humor that works so well inn a horror story. And your ending not bringing the reader to the actual ending is very effective. WRITE ON!

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15:16 Aug 21, 2020

I think it is a cheap trick to dehumanize, or fail to humanize, your character. Even the most irascible villain is a person with some heart and a backstory. Thanks for the read and encouragement!

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I'm glad you didn't write a romance. People tend to turn to romance in everything when it isn't needed. Life isn't only about that after all. You gave the reader a dark, twisting story and I love that. This was chillingly good. Well done.

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02:43 Aug 20, 2020

Yeah, I have noticed the tendency here is romance, interpersonal relationships and emotional experiences. All of which is fine, but its nice to break expectations as a creative exercise. Thank you!

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Yeah, I'm not saying writing romance every time is bad, but as a writer, you have the power to be creative in a lot of different ways. Having a diverse amount of writing makes you even more efficient. It says that I'm willing to go among common practices and explore more than one topic. And you did an awesome job doing that.

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05:43 Aug 20, 2020

Very kind of you to say. :)

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I try. Keep writing your doing a good job.

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Tariq Saeed
14:23 Aug 19, 2020

It's a twisting story.

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04:56 Aug 17, 2020

Love love love the title. What a fun twist on the prompt. I liked the cantankerous old woman next door (and the fact that he makes a point to say he didn't kill her). Looking forward to more!

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20:18 Aug 17, 2020

Thank you for the read and your kind encouragement. I had just streamed two different movies that used the "she hates it when you tell her to calm down" trope - and it just seemed funny to subvert that old chestnut in a cheekily morbid manner. The woman and van subplots are my favorite parts. A story within a story is a fun thing to write.

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Elliot Thomas
15:35 Aug 14, 2020

I admit, I originally read this because I thought the title sounded like a fall out boy song title. I love stories from the killer's point of view, and this is no exception. Bravo. Keep writing

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22:09 Aug 14, 2020

I am not too familiar with Fall Out Boy, but I kinda worried afterwards that it sounds like a Smiths/Morrissey title. But I am glad it was catchy enough to grab you. Thanks for the kindness and encouragement. After over 20 years of writing, I probably won't ever be able to stop. If I am lucky I will somehow write myself to death when the time comes. That would be exactly the kind of irony I would write about. Appreciated, friend. Have a rockalicious weekend.

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Lily Kingston
02:33 Aug 13, 2020

Great story. I like your take on the prompt. I feel like most people would have tried to be romantic about it (since it’s a romance prompt), but you gave it a dark and original take. Nice! Also, I love the title. Overly specific titles are the best. Keep up the good work and keep writing!!

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02:40 Aug 13, 2020

Trying to upend expectations is where I find most of my inspiration, in writing and in life. Thank you for the read, the compliments and the encouragement! I plan to read more of your work later tonight. :)

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Mustang Patty
22:36 Aug 16, 2020

Wow. You did a great job of building the tension and taking the reader right to the edge. I enjoyed the story a lot. Thank you for sharing, and KEEP WRITING, ~MP~

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23:03 Aug 16, 2020

Thank you! I took a break from fiction for awhile to write film scripts, and it helped a lot in learning to build tension.

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