A while back, i (sebastian szukalski) began to write a short story.

It developed into something I rather like, but I need some constructive criticism from the lovely people of FA. So, if anyone is bothered to read this, I'd greatly appreciate feedback. Please and tankyou :)

WARNING : contains dark themes such as in depth murder, and the likes. Please be warned, it may prove rather much for some people.

Chapter 1: The Three Things

There are only 3 questions on everyone’s lips.
They speak them in slurs, as though saying them confirms them, makes them more real. Simple words horrify them, disgusts them. Three perfectly innocent questions. Who's next? Where? Why?
But they are devoid of innocence much like their subject is devoid of innocence himself, cruel, and malicious, his heart torn, bleeding black tar in viscous droplets, breaking as they hit his empty hearts’ wall.
They say his iris' are as black as his pupils, so shiny his victims see their disfigured faces in them as he tortures them, gleaning every ounce of love from their eyes.

Coffee. Brilliant. The buzzing background had reduced to a hum. The talk of another victim spread like a virus, spreading fear like death, vocalising in every coffee shop, bar, or any room capable of holding 3 people. That was unfortunate. He happened to like coffee. But not the noise. It irritated him as much as it enthused them.
Simple. But at least he had the coffee. It was good, as always. It didn’t change, like the people around him. Constant. reliable.
The scent of roasted beans enthralled him, digging at his nostrils, as he sipped the warm liquid, droplets forming on his lower lip. Paper cups. Just as equally unchanging. And as horrible as the talking.
The dim hum of noise had once more heightened. News. Again. How many times will they show that grotesque face, staring down, waiting it be identified. Not like much of it was left to identify. He did a good job, ensuring that.
They say he takes his time, but not so long as to let his victims die. Melts their faces at the last moment. Hot oil, injected into their skin, veins, and tongue. Gruesome. Not anywhere near as gruesome as the things the melted flesh hides from eager eyes.
And again, those three questions sang down, pushing the coffee shop into waves of conversation. Who? Where? Why?
But that was easy to answer. All you had to do was follow the pattern. It never changed. This killer had a motive, or a pattern. Always religious, always at night, always a woman. Sickening.“Bloody bastards’ not stopping. Another sir?”
He turned to look at the location of the voice with the thick English accent. Bartender. Coffee. Of course. His cup, empty, the creme already hardening onto the sides of the paper.
“No, thanks. It’s about time I get out of here”
Same answer. Every day. Why do they bother to ask? The screeching of the chair as he moved back broke the noise of the room, and he was gone. The cars handle was hot, the shiny silver exposed to the hot morning sun. That means the car was hot too. Fortunate that work wasn't far away.
Who? Where? Why?
Who was easy. Her, sitting on the other side of the coffee shop. Just as she had, every Sunday after church.
Where was just as easy, the church, like every, had storage rooms.
And why, another easy one. Why was just because he... I… Feel like it
Following her would be easy. That’s why I’ve been doing just that. She leaves 8:30, every day, going to an everyday life. Everyday work. Then home by 5:15, in bed at 8:30. Schedules. That’s when I’ll strike. And then, to the silence I’ll take her. The where. Always a brilliant question, people always suspect the priests. This time, St. Marys, barely 5 minutes by foot from her residence. Soon to be an empty residence. Just like she will be. Empty. Drained of life, of love, of religion.
And now, I wait. Working. The soft clinking of cutlery, sharp knifes surrounding me, Teflon pans with hexagonal patterns lacing their bases, pots, bowls. Kitchenware. The discount was the real bonus of this work. 50% off knifes, and some other kitchenware too. The rest didn’t interest me. I wouldn’t need it. Who wouldn’t take an opportunity that laid itself before them?
7:50. Time to close shop. And close her. Car door handles are cold now; moist droplets cling to them, wetting my hand as I open it, muffling the feel of the metal. The door closes softly, the car still feels like new. I don’t use her often. Only when hunting.
The grass is soft, but not quite as soft as the downhill roll in neutral I used as to not be heard, nor as soft as my closing of the door. Gloves are already on, sticky latex clinging to my hands; the traffic lights helped me there, allowing the chance to don them. The soft grass is laden with dew, drooping under its weight. There droplets cling to me too, leaving an impression on my pants. I pass her car, rusted, and old. I suppose if I were close enough to it, the rust would cling to me as well. Clinging was always a problem. Nothing ever lets go.
I carry myself to her door with soft footfalls. Not being detected is of utmost importance, and the cover of night, its gloomy shadows are my friends, the moon casting only the faintest light. Her door is unlocked. Not that she’d know, I didn’t tell her I drilled through its locking pins, and oiled its hinges. Silence as it swings ajar, just enough to give way to my figure, a shadowy shape blending with the walls and cabinets. Her house is so familiar, just like every other victims. Had to make sure of that. Her schedule made it easy, I always knew when to look around, when to disappear. Much like she will.The old paint on the furniture and walls is only just beginning to peel, condensation finally weakening it to the point of failure, cracks spread from its corners, crevices. The floors polish is worn, scuffed and scratched. But the dog responsible for it went missing about a week ago. The same day I went to church.
Her breathing is audible even from here, faint, and soft, warm. And amazingly irritating, it breaks my silence. Her door isn’t a problem, arched bedroom doors are such a beauty. The beads hanging from them are not. But the bathroom has a door, and as an en suite, it has her in it too. Again the oiled hinges serve me well, my shadow hardly visible with the lack of windows in the room. The tiles are cold, I can feel it through my shoes, and socks. The bathroom feels cold, blue and white tiles tend to do that.
The final door. I hadn’t oiled this one. She won’t have time to escape even if she does hear me, but regardless, I open it slowly, savoring the feeling a hunter gets when he sees his prey. The rope from my left pant pocket wraps around my hands easily, a practiced motion. Its fibres sift through my fingers as I weave it through them, an inadequate rope, rough as bark, and absorbent, but traditions must be upheld, not corrupted. After all, that’s why I am here. Corruption seeped into her traditions. Thou shalt not kill. Looks like both of us have disobeyed that. The floor lets out soft moans as I close in on her, amplified by my anticipation.
She sleeps with her head on the wrong side of the bed, away from the headrest, her gold hair falling over the rail. An odd habit, but helpful. The rope glides easily over her head, onto her neck… the dark strings contrasting against alabaster skin. But only in colour.Her bones would shatter easily under the rope, no time to struggle, her trachea and vertebral column would break as one under my weight. But where’s the fun in that. I loop my hands behind her neck, slowly tightening the coil, asphyxiating her as she sleeps. Ten. Nine. Eight. Or so she would count were she being sedated by gas. Now, she’s being sedated by lack of it.
As she approaches unconsciousness, her body spasms, saliva grouping on her lips much like my coffee, moistening them so the glisten under the silver moonlight. Oddly romantic, for the scene of a crime.
But this will take longer than ten seconds. She is only approaching the state in which I can carry her out of here. For the last time. Death is such a tranquil thing. Closure. No more sins. No more memories.At last, the continuous pressure of the rope drew her into a state where no screams would be released. Yet still, that breathing wears on my mind, sending me insane. I will need to be quick. No time for silence when there are none to hear it. The beaded arch, the wooden floor of the hallway, the door left ajar for a quick escape, and into my car, waiting as I left her.
And still the breathing continues as she sleeps by my side.
“Shall we take a drive?”
My voice sounds foreign, wrong, in the silence, the peace. And then the low rumble of the hybrid engine, and smooth acceleration that follows. Only 4 turns till the church. Perhaps her god will forgive her. There are none to forgive me.
Again into neutral as I make the run, engine off, brake slowly being engaged. And stop, inertia slightly moving her breathing body. The soft click of my seatbelt. Safety first. The not-so-soft click of the door, as I pull the handle, and the softest of all, my footsteps on the gravel as I round the front of the car, heat radiates from its metal exterior. Her handle is used even less than mine. It’s louder, less worn. Her weight is clumsy, difficult to hold as I sink into deep gravelly paths. Why do churches insist on loudness? But now, the church is silent. Dark. A place at rest, for a woman laid to her final resting.
The back door is always open, leading to the store room. But there is one last thing to get. As I lay her down on the table, dust plumes spread from her body. I leave the room, heading back to the car, pace elevated. Tools. Supplies. Bag. All there, now all with me. She didn’t even know she had her feet on them.
Slowly now, I walk back to her. Truly silent, no trees for night birds to perch on and chirp, no people to disturb me, and my passenger. The door to her resting place is old, but unworn, hardly used. Only the weathering damages its iron handles, corroding them. The storeroom was a thing of beauty. “Holy” oil on one wall, my supplies on a footstool, and her golden hair spread upon the top of a table. Perfect. Now, to use those supplies I so carefully prepared.
The gas burner would be used first, to heat the oil that means I need the kettle too, and the communion cup from the tabernacle. They can go on the table with her, so I can see the rest of my work better. Turning on the lights would cause suspicion, with the whole world aware of my pattern.
The knives and blades, both serrated and smooth, reflect the blue flames of the burner, casting blue lines over the ceiling. I check my gloves. Still intact. Time to start.Sterile syringes, still in packages, and catheters likewise, must be removed. A plastic petri dish to fill with acid. hooks welded to metal bars, my favorite devices, must be removed from the folds of the bag, placed on the table, coating their undersides with dust. Such a shame, they glisten so nicely.
And the skinning knife, last from the bag, first to her flesh. I start at her sternum, working up to her neckline, a light angle on the blade. I can feel the soft resistance of elastic skin, as the blood flows from the incisions, still warm, un-coagulated. As the blade begins, she wakes. But I prepared for that, too. The dusty table has had newly fitted restraints, leather bands holding her down. I am free to do my work.
Her mouth is gagged; the gauze collecting condensation as her panicked breath slows. She had known I would be coming. She just didn’t know who I was. And that’s how I like it.
I lower the angle even more, moving more shallowly under her skin, fresh blood follows the silvery blade as it carves the alabaster skin. I don’t want to pierce her lungs. That would end my fun. Her skin ripples under the blade, and her body writhes at my touch. I push the blade deeper, carving through more flesh, still moving up. As I reach the top, blade now entirely red, the droplets beading on the metal, as I change direction. I retrace the cut on the other side, shifting my body over hers, cutting with surgical precision. After all, med school had to show for something.
The skin lifts off easily, her eyes race too it as I place it into a transparent plastic bad, sealing it at the top. Zip locks. How convenient. It drips blood into the bag, leaving the normally blue bag to appear purple.
“It’s only just beginning”
My voice still sounds alien, but I keep my resolve. I mustn’t let my humanity interfere. I re-join the blade to her rippling skin, now flowing freely, the dust floating to the top of the pool of blood beneath us, dark red, beautiful and warm.
I pull the blade up her neck, very lightly, only just cutting her skin. I avoid her arteries and veins, focusing on the vertebrae below. The blood beads as it leaves her, thin trails follow its path, like raindrops on a window. Red rain.
And at least the skinning knife is no longer of use, I have left my mark, a line from her sternums end to the beginning of her lip. Now it was time for my friends, the hooks. I start with a small one, modified by me, its edge sharpened, I hook it into the end of the knife mark, up into her lower lip, through to her upper lip, avoiding the gauze in her mouth.It slices cleanly through her lips, beginning her grotesque disfigurement. Her lips part as I pull the hook from it, slight resistance meeting my movements, as I reach for a larger size. This one would go through both lips. Twice. I push her chin up with the back of my hand, closing it, and dexterously loop the next hook through both lips, and remove my hand. Her jaw does the rest, the gauze using more space than her mouth can hold. Blood stains the gauze, and she retches below as it drips into her lips.
Again and again, her lips are parted, disfigured, till at last, the knives are being called. I remove the tip of her lips, leaving the majority and a bloody mess as well. I run the blade over her, drawing crosses with it. It is the house of her lord, after all. I angle my hand, pressing the knife into her flesh, through her cheek. I can feel the teeth underneath, smooth, glossy.
I push the blade all the way through, feeling it cut into her tongue, skewering it, and out the other cheek, avoiding her teeth.
I turn it, and the welcome sign of blood escapes her white skin. I pull it out, and unstrap her head, turning it on its side, letting the blood ooze out. I cannot let her drown. I begin to slice her ears, along the ridges. Blood travels more slowly to them, only just showing as I cut. But the pain is obvious. She wriggles, and yells suppressed screams.
The oil is hot enough. The communion cup is ready. But first, the acid. I unwrap a syringe, and a catheter, screwing one to the other, and draw from the petri dish, the yellow liquid filling the plastic cylinder. Deftly, I stop, and raise the tip, wasting none of the precious liquid, and turn to face the creature below me. I start with her eyelids, and work along her nose, piercing lightly, depositing a tiny amount. Like a tattoo, but more painful. Much more.
Her skin curls at the injection sites, eaten by the acid. Tears roll from her eyes, unstopped and unhindered, as the eyes themselves begin to melt. I inject her lips, and her chin, her veins, and finally the rest of the unused acid meets her sternum, turning the flesh brown on impact, a squirming mass of flesh.
Her body is shaking, shuddering as she spasms. But no one can hear it. No one will. I turn on my heels, disturbing the dust that allows me to do so. The cup is always ready, and I fill it with the searing, holiest oil. And now, for Silence. Precious silence, to fill the room,
Once more I turn, more carefully now, and pour it unto her face, sealing the wounds, and melting her skin, it falls away in clumps, slowly detaching from her bone and muscle. Another ladle and I repeat, her skin blistering when it remains. And now her life is slipping. Not much time left. I unbuckle her torso and head, and immerse it in the hot oil, quickly, just enough to coat her face, while I hold her golden hair, at the nape of her neck. And silence. Blessed silence envelopes me, ensorcelled me in its glory. Her skin is now gold like her hair, blistered and rough like her heart, and I am gone like a shadow, the lights now turned on in the whole church, previously prepared spotlights pointed at led lights on the façade, facing the street, light spilling beautiful colours.The door to the storeroom is open, and music is left playing from within it. Chopin. I race to the car, and away I go, using uncharted routes to abandon the car once more in its safe-place. I remove the battery once the engine permits me, once it cools enough. Discharge over time is the last thing I need.
I run to my house, less than a kilometer away, and am back in my bed, my wife, still asleep. The perfect alibi. She will never know. Cannot know.

Chapter 2: The Home

But it isn’t enough. It’s never enough. I need more, the process is too short. Another step. An advancement, something new, to hold the silence longer, to savour the moment when I next create it. But for now, while there is time, I shall sleep, and in sleep I shall attain a certain silence of my own. A silence that once more is temporary, and ends all too soon. And again, the breathing wears my patience thin, my wives warm breath by my side bores into my skull, an endless barrage of noise, a unwelcome side effect of appearing to be like everyone else.
My wife. So innocent, so clueless. She will never know my secrets, never ask to know. That’s what makes her so brilliant, so perfect. Her body is warm, sweat beads hand on her forehead, the smell of her skin tinted with rose and her hair with shampoo. Like tendrils of scent, they pacify me, calming my instability, lulling me to sleep at her side.
Beneath my eyelids, my eyes race as I dream, reliving every moment of my day, from the hot coffee that started my morning, to my hand around her hair, all playing to Chopin’s classical music.
All the while, time passed me by, till before I was ready, my wives body shook me awake. She was restless in the mornings, trying desperately to sleep, yet unable to attain peace. So simple.
The light burned my retinas as I woke, spilling in from unclosed blinds. How silly of me. I placed my hand firmly on her shoulder, her face turning towards me.
“It’s time to get up, love. Stop fighting it”Soft whispers exhaled into her ear, warm and kind. Unlike anything from the last day. Perhaps she’d react differently if she’d known I’d spent last night with another woman.
From underneath crème coloured sheets adorned with floral designs, a killer rose, and dressed, and left the room, and into the hallway I went, stepping clumsily towards the kitchen. For a coffee, and some toast. The real breakfast would come later, when Caroline woke completely. She enjoyed cooking, she is skilled with a pan. Another benefit to my work. She of course is convinced I am simply considerate. How foolish of her.
The toast, as always, is timed to perfection, golden and crisp, and the coffee neither too slow to extract, nor too quick. Constant. Unchanging. The aroma calls me to drink it, relishing its beauty, richness. The wooden floorboards infused with rich lacquer sigh as she walks out from our room, dressed as usual in light clothing. Forever too hot this part of the world. She turns the television on, as usual, as soon as she has made herself comfortable among the many pillows on the couch, and blaring noise meets our ears, my mind only taking in some of it, focused on the coffee.
“Another killing…”
“Brutal disfigurement…”
“Church store room….”
Always the same. Never a new lead, never DNA, or even partial fingerprints. Gloves don’t have prints. Neither do plastic overclothes. Or a knife, as a matter of fact.
I was too cautious, too mindful for capture. Some might say too confident.
They won’t find me. I’m normal, I work, have a wife, socialize. Nothing can connect them to me, so long as they don’t start searching based on women with blonde hair and religious obsessions, and even then, they’d only find her criminal record. Her. She always was, always will be, the reason for everything. They say a mother nurtures a child, and the child aspires to be like her. Guess that’s true. I am just like her. But unlike Her, I'm sober. Careful. Her alcoholism and violence was uncalculated, careless, and brutish. She never thought she'd kill, though. That was a surprise on her alcohol addled mind. She just drove, straight through him. My father. Dead.
The hum of the television dies down, as do my thoughts, as my wife moves to prepare our breakfast, uttering something under her breath about the cold in her bones, oblivious to the turmoil of my mind, as she walked to the kitchen, clean as always. That was expected, after all. I did work with kitchenware. The knives in our house were always sharp, as I often put their blades to sharpening stones, sometimes for hours. I find it therapeutic, the feel of steel stripping away from the blade. Home life was normal, there was little cause for suspicion. To some my idiosyncrasies may have seemed, odd. perhaps obsessive, but hardly dangerous. Just another man passionate about keeping his utensils in a state of repair. And it helped, cooking was easier. I took pride in the blades almost as much as the meals prepared with them, enjoying the smoothness as the cold steel passed through the flesh of fruit, vegtable, bread, or meat. It was a simple joy, the joy of good workmanship, but a joy none the less.

As I read, my mind traveled, till it found itself leading me to my room, the piano in the background no longer leaving sweet notes hanging in the air. My wife was in my room. Our room. She was sleeping. I left.
Chapter 3: The Other

Once I'd eaten my share, and downed my coffee, I left for work, passing news crews outside a church, the obvious cause of this mornings headlines. I passed quickly, unwilling to be caught in the fray of cars, vans, and cameras. Driving on, I approached the offices which stole two days of my week, without fail. The words "City Police" shone down from the stainless steel cutouts embedded in sandstone as I drove in, and parked, the outside of my door almost burning my hand, warmed by the glaring sun. Inside, the offices are silent, and the elevator empty. I went down, into the laboratories where my work awaited me, in the form of a poor blonde girl, her body and face disfigured beyond recognition. And so began the days work, identifying dental structure, querying for records. It was ceaseless, and futile. He covered his tracks, if he left any.
The department was usually chaos, paperwork piling, reports being filed to join them. Screens went through countless faces, supposed victims who miraculously escaped pointed out supposed perpetrators, weaving increasingly unconvincing stories. Behind glass doors, my superiors work to form a motive, psychologists working to assemble a persona to seek, to no avail. His work was much to sudden, brutal, and came at a time where so much was already happening. Countless witnesses of other crimes still flowed through the office, being interviewed, recorded, and escorted out systematically, no longer the priority in this small city. Robberies, burglary, assault. All paled in comparison to the seemingly senseless slaughter, which wasn't senseless at all.
The corpse was much like any other, signs of burning, cutting, and grotesque lacerations scarred her face. I have a feeling she was beautiful once. Before him. He was cruel, but ritualistic. And that would be his downfall. It would lead me to him. It would lead me to him, through the next girl. I was beginning to see patterns, patterns he wasn't even trying to hide. Patterns everyone else overlooked as unimportant. There were layers to the injuries, an order of operation. Every layer is calculated, every layer is important. They show us that he gains some form of enjoyment from this, that he tortured before he kills. That he somehow stops the screams. And yet there's no fingerprints, there's nothing, just her. He doesn't leave a single ghostly clue. His patterns aren't because he wants to be caught. They survive only because he has to do them. He's set in his ways, obsessed with the ritual.

I circled again, this time with a camera, taking photos, still searching, hoping to find that clue, that crucial piece of the puzzle that elduded us all. I found nothing. Not this time. We would need to wait for the next victim, and hope he was less thorough. But that was unlikely, and catching him seemed even moreso. As I peered through the lens of my camera, I suddenly became aware of the cold that seemed to emanate from the clinical white walls, and the lonliness that enveloped me in this room, the only breathing creature. I could feel my panic building up, my careful resolve breaking, dissolving

I felt weakened, unable to hold myself up on my own legs, unable to breathe. I stumbled up the steps, only just saving myself from tripping as I headed up, and up the tiled surface, my hand lazily trailing beside me against the white wall, my lab coat flailing behind me as though there was some strange anomaly of wind suspending it. My vision began to blur, and one by one, my senses failed me. My balance failed, and it left me pressing my weight against the wall, unable to hold myself up. I noticed i wasnt breathing any more. I collapsed.

My senses woke and re-engaged slowly, first my vison began to return, blurred more than before, only just showing the surface, details beyond my ability to focus. But it was clear I was moving, as the painted concrete ceiling moved by at a steady rate, and the windows that now lined my poriferal vision became clearer. The posters on walls warning about MRSA stared down at me, and it was clear I'd found myself within a hospital. The ceiling showed signs of damage, thin cracks visible and seams from shoddy repairs. A public hospital.

Still dazed, I attempted to shift my weight to one side, to see the lettering on the floor that would tell me where I was headed. But i foundmyself unable to move, Velcro straps holding my to my place on either arm. I was confused, my mind slow. I ignored it. I could tell it was no main thoroughfare, it was deathly quiet, as my newly awoken ears told me. The only sounds pervading the crushing silence was the squeaking of my stretchers rubber wheels on the polished painted concrete laid some time during the precabrian era, and the ragged breathing emitted from my mouth, punctuated by the heavy breaths of the male nurse pushing me on.

Where was I?

I'd noticed I was no longer passing by windows, and that curtains lined my sides. I'd stopped moving. I was still. And arm grasped the oddly farmiliar stainless steel frame of the stretcher, and the man connected to it ben over me. Faintly i could see the words "mental Health" faded on his scrubs. My mind still wandered as I struggled to come to terms with my surroundings, why it was so familiar. Why did these rough threaded sheets feel so well known, why did the smell of disinfectant used only here remind me of some event I couldnt remember. What was that drip in my arm that I had only just noticed? Why was blackness approaching again?

Where was I?

Suddenly, I remembered. I remembered work, I remembered all the things he had done. All those crimes. Those poor girls. And suddenly, I remembered who he was. I knew who he was. He was me. And I was him. And we were finished. Caught. Restrained. Stuck in some hospital.

We were Home

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