Ur out of ur damn mind!! Im not going!! She was crazy if she thought I wanted anything to do with her. I quickly added a Stop asking me for good measure. I flipped my phone over so I couldn’t see the screen. A few seconds later I heard it buzz, vibrating against my desk. I got up and practically ran out of the room. I knew that eventually I would give in and look at the message. I heard another buzz. And then another. Turns out I couldn’t resist for as long as I thought I could and came storming back to my phone. On the screen, I saw a string of short messages.
Can we just talk?
Talk?! To you?!
you know i cant do that. im afraid of you Cass.
Ok. That hurts a little.
I thought eventually she would realize I wasn’t insane, just trying to make the world a better place. What I do is justice and justice is never wrong.
i’ll stop asking ok. Just promise we are still friends?
Our friendship was strong, hardened over many years. We had met after school under a tall oak tree. Her hair was up in a messy bun and she was wearing an oversized black hoodie. I remember thinking she looked so good in a way I’ve never seen before. She was so alive and messy and imperfect. She was like a fire, bright and inviting and dangerous. And I was the moth.
That day, under the oak, we had sat talking until the sun dipped below the horizon. We talked about everything and anything; school, teachers, boys, our families. I would watch Emmie speak, her hands waving around and laughing between words. I wouldn’t even pay attention to what she was saying, just how she was saying it. I knew I was trapped; captivated by her charm and charisma, her humor. As I said, she was the fire and I was the moth.
Yes. Still friends
My fingers hovered over the send button.
Cass Green. My friend since high school grade. I can’t remember how or when we first met. I do recall though that I thought she was very organized. She always had a plan; a plan that always worked. She was pretty in a way that was perfect. Her clothes were clean and crisp, her hair always tidy and well kept. It was almost as if she were overcompensating.
I hated that she hadn’t responded yet. I knew she had seen it, the read receipt said 4:41 pm and it was already 5. I needed to know that our friendship was still intact.
I had told Em what I do...for fun three days ago. I’d been inspired by some news story I’d glanced over a few days before. It was a reverse Robin Hood story; a man stealing from the poor and giving to the rich. Just a bad person doing bad things for worse reasons.
I had invited her over to my apartment intending to come clean. I had a plan, the perfect way to tell her. I could even envision her response. She would be surprised at first, then ask me questions and I’d explain. She would understand. She would say it was alright and were still friends. She would still love me as much as I loved her.
Safe to say that’s not exactly how it went. There was a lot of screaming and accusing and crying, then Em left. More like she ran away. I spent the rest of the day sobbing in my bed, resenting myself, resenting Emmie.
I had woken the next morning and it was still pitch black outside. My head was foggy and it took me a while before I remembered what had happened the evening before. My eyes burned and if I knew if I didn’t do something I would start crying again. So, before I even fully realized what I was doing I stumbled out the door of my apartment and tripped down the stairs to the street.
I lived in a pretty safe part of the city. Even at night, I feel comfortable walking around in my pajamas, which consisted of frayed gym shorts and an oversized t-shirt. But this was not where I wanted to be. At all.
I walked until I didn’t recognize the buildings. The walls were covered in graffiti and the air reeked of smoke and urine. The faint moonlight helped me navigate the cracked sidewalk. The bars on every other street corner were closing, meaning the drunken pigs would be wandering out at any moment. This is where I wanted to be.
“Hey, little girl!” Good lord, right on queue.
“Giiiiiiirly wait up...” From the darkened shadows emerged a man clad in a fancy looking suit, though wrinkled and stained from a long night of drinking.
I rolled my eyes and plastered on a fake smile. “Hi.”
He looked almost surprised I had even acknowledged him at all. I felt his eyes flick up and down my body. He stumbled closer to me until he was near enough where I could smell the bar floor he had just crawled off of. I was tempted to just push past him, but I wanted to have some fun.
“Yo hot, baby girl,” he slobbered, slurring his words together.
I giggled, acting like I was amused by his advances. I wasn’t.
He cocked a lopsided smirk. “Yo wan sum this?”
I stepped forward and batted my lashes. My hands went to his waist and I started to unbuckle his belt. He chuckled. “Yeah, get on your knees bitch!”
That was the moment I was waiting for. For the anger to spark inside, for the disgust to boil over. It was the moment to justify what I was about to do.
I whipped his belt from his pant loops and threw it around his neck. I pulled the end through the buckled, tightening it around his throat.
Slowly constricting it I smirked as he began to gasp for air. His arms didn’t know whether to reach for me or his neck. I snickered. “You’re pathetic.” I yanked his belt harder. I didn’t want to break his neck. He needed to suffer. Slowly.
He became more frantic, rasping and clawing, desperately trying to escape. He slammed against the nearest wall, bringing me with him. I lost hold of the belt, but only for a second. I grabbed it again with one hand, holding it like a leash, and clenched the man’s hair with the other. I rammed his forehead back against the wall with a satisfying crack. A waterfall of blood followed.
My knuckles turned white gripping the belt. I watched as the blood flowed from the gash in his head. With my hands stained red, I tugged the belt as tight as it could go.
The man’s breathing slowed and his struggling calmed. Before the final glimmer of life faded from his eyes I leaned forward and grinned, whispering, “On your knees, bitch.”
I don’t know how she thought I would react. It was hard to even think about and I haven’t dared to say it out loud yet. She told me a few days ago at her apartment. She even invited me to come with her. To hunt people. She started out explaining how she wasn’t crazy and how she was a good person just trying to do good things. She called it a hobby. A hobby. For fun. That’s fucking insane.
I obviously thought she was joking until she started to explain deeper. She would do it every other month. It took weeks to plan. She would look for a bad person, who she believed deserved it. She told me sometimes it was thieves or rapists, or even people she thought had killed someone.
Her process began with observing. Every day for a few weeks she would stalk these people. Her targets. She would learn everything about them.
She told me that if they turned out to be different than she thought, meaning better and not bad (whatever that meant) she would back off. That had never happened. According to her, the people she chose always turned out to be exactly who she thought they were. Bad. She always used that word. Bad people doing bad things. Bad people deserve it.
She told me she’s done it twenty-three different times. She started years ago. Before we had even met. That was disturbed me. If she thought I was bad, she could have done it to me.
That night three days ago was a mess. It was impulsive, unplanned. Well, I did go to the neighborhood to blow off some steam, not necessarily looking for bad people. But I knew I was going to find some, and that’s what I wanted.
The clean up was just a hassle. During the act, it was incredible, it always was. The rush, the high. Knowing that this person, this bad, terrible person would be gone because of me is always spectacular. Usually, the aftermath is easy. There’s never blood. I always kept it quick and clean and simple. This time was different and unorganized. My clothes, the wall, the ground, all soaked in a thick layer of blood. Granted we were in a neighborhood where it may not look suspicious, but I don’t like taking chances. I used the man’s suit jacket to sloop up the puddles of blood. It still stained the cement and wall. I hoped it would soon fade away in the morning mist.
Then there was the issue of the body. Usually, I have a plan to dispose of it. No body, no crime, just a missing person. I was torn between just leaving it in a darkened alleyway, knowing that it could be days before it was discovered. Still, my DNA would be everywhere. I checked to make sure there wasn’t anyone wandering around. I dragged his lifeless body into the back of a nearby alley.
Clocked by shadows, I jogged back to my apartment. I changed quickly into some clean clothes. I rustled through my cabinets hastily grabbing a bottle of vodka and a small box of matches. I put my blood-covered pajamas in a plastic bag and sprinted back to the body.
A fire in the middle of a large city is, to say the least, noticeable. The smell of burning flesh even more so. I hoped that the smell of plastic helped to mask it.
I threw my bag of bloodied PJs on the man’s body and dumped the entire bottle of vodka on top. I sighed. Such a waste.
Then a match was lit and it all burned.
After two days after that night, Cass had told me everything I had seen on the news that a homeless woman had found charred human remains somewhere on the southside of the city. Police said that they can’t yet identify the body or cause of death. They said it was most likely a robbery gone wrong and the killer just burned the body to attempt to cover his tracks. I knew it was her. Of course, I couldn’t be certain, but somehow I knew.
Then today I got a text message. It was Cass asking to meet. I said no instantly, just out of instinct. This person has killed people. But there was some part of me that was curious. Cass was my best friend and even after all this... There was a voice in my head telling me that maybe she was just trying to be good. Making the world better. Safer.
I think we should talk.
Somewhere public, 3 o'clock.
A smile grew as I looked down at my phone, reading the message. It was better than I had hoped. It was perfect. I would prove to her I wasn’t bad. I was good. And she would finally see.
“Hey…” She looked nervous but happy to see me.
I took a deep breath. “Hi.” I had told her to meet in the park near the center of the city. It was very public and busy. It helped me feel safer.
“I’m really glad you decided to see me,” she said.
“I really want you to know that you don’t have to be afraid of me.” Her words poured out, faster than her mouth could keep up, “I would never, ever hurt you, Em-”
“You’re such an amazing person and the people I’ve...well they’re terrible, evil people. They deserve-”
“CASS STOP” My voice went louder than I meant and I saw a few heads turn in my direction. “Just stop.”
Her mouth opened then closed before shutting again.
“You’ve been lying to me for our entire friendship,” I said in a low voice.
Cass’s eyes darted down to the floor, ashamed.
“A part of me wants to understand. It wants to tell you that it’s alright, that I still love you. When I look at you I want so desperately to see my best friend.”
Cass glanced up, gazing at me with wide, hopeful eyes.
“But all I see is a monster.”
“Emmie please!” I begged, trying to keep up with her as she made a mad dash to her car. “Please just listen to me!!”
She turned back to me, her eyes were glassy, but her voice angry and stern, “Stay the fuck away from me!”
I caught up to her as she swung her car door open. “Please, Emmie, please!” My eyes started to sting and I only realized I was crying when I felt hot tears rush down my face.
From within her car, Em seemed to compose herself. “I’m going to the cops. You can run. I really don’t care. But I’m telling them everything.” She spoke with a blank expression.
“No, no, no, no. Please, don’t, Emmie!”
“I don’t think you understand, Cass. What you’re doing is wrong!”
My throat tightened. My fingers twitched as a flicker of anger sparked. Breathlessly I murmured, “Please. Em.”
She started the engine.
“I’m a good person, why can’t you see that!”
She smiled sadly and laughed mockingly. “All you are, Cass, is crazy.”
I looked at her. I could see that she meant it.
I felt Cass’s fingers dig into my neck. She had pulled open the door before I even could grasp what was happening. I clawed at her face, trying to escape her iron grip. She jerked me out into the road, her hands wrapped around my throat.
“I’m sorry, Cass,” I rasped, “Please, I’m so sorry”
The last thing I heard was Cass whisper, “So am I.” Then the world dissolved into darkness.