The night had been perfect in every way. Of course, every night with Eleanor was perfect That night we went to the opera. A whole new experience for me. I’d loved every minute of it. I felt as though I’d been on stage with the actors, a part of their musical world.
The magic of the opera was nothing new to Eleanor. She was more sophisticated than the women I had dated in the past. I liked to think she was special. I liked to think that she would be the one to end my cycle of violence and pain.
Keeping up with Eleanor’s taste on my tiny paycheque from the local coffee shop was challenging. With that money, it was hard to even pay the rent on my dingy apartment, but I couldn’t dream of finding a better job. I never stayed anywhere long enough to look for a good job. So I managed to support myself and Eleanor’s desires on my salary. She was worth it. I wanted us to be happy together for as long as the urge would allow.
After the opera I drove Eleanor to her modest one-storey home. I didn’t wait for an invitation, but climbed out of my car and followed her into the house. We’d been together almost a month. We were beyond invitations.
As I followed her up the stairs to her front door, I felt the box concealed within my coat pocket poke into my leg. I shuddered. The box reminded me of what was coming—what I was bound to do. Even as I enjoyed this evening with my love, I could feel the urge growing within me. It wouldn’t be long.
When we entered the house Eleanor rushed to the washroom, her green satin gown dragging behind her, leaving me along in her quaint living room. I sat on the leather easy-chair, where I always sat. Eleanor had even dubbed it my chair. It was special to have something in her house that was considered mine.
As I waited, I pulled the box from my coat and stroked it. I knew I was doing the right thing. This gift could save her life and release me from the shackles keeping me held tight to this hell.
Opening the box, I stared down at the small pistol. Many times I had fired one just like it at my own head, never to see any results. I wanted to die. I wanted to make the world safe for other people. But I was a monster, born to look like a man. I couldn’t die at my own hand.
For years, I struggled to understand what would finally end my evil existence. I lived without a heart, forced to kill those I loved to steal theirs. All my life, I fell in love only to kill my lover and feast on their heart. I could never stop myself; the urge was always too strong.
Then I realized what would kill me. Or what I hoped would kill me. I couldn’t die at my own hand; the monster that created me wouldn’t allow it. But what if I were to die at the hand of a lover? It was the only chance I had to end my suffering. I would give Eleanor a fair chance to kill me, to save herself. It was the only plan I had. I just didn’t want to kill anymore.
When Eleanor returned from the washroom she wore a bright smile. The make-up that had decorated her face throughout the evening had been washed away. Outings required make-up, in her opinion, but when we were alone she chose not to wear it. I didn’t mind. Her natural beauty was radiant. She didn’t need any extras.
“For me?” she asked, pointing to the box on my lap as she perched on the arm of the chair.
“What if I told you it was for my other girlfriend?” I teased.
Laughing, she swatted me on the arm. Her laughter was more musical than the opera we’d just sat through. Her voice was amazing. She should’ve been a singer. She could out-sing all the modern talent. Somehow, singing had become more about showing off one’s breasts than being able to perform.
I smiled and handed her the box.
It was too large to be jewelry, so she was most likely expecting flowers or an overpriced article of clothing. When she saw the true nature of her gift she gasped and turned to me with a look of confusion, mixed with something I couldn’t identify.
“For your protection,” I told her. “You live all alone. Anything could happen. I want you to be safe.”
I couldn’t tell her the whole truth. I couldn’t tell her I was the thing she needed protection from. That truth would come out soon enough. The demon within me never stayed buried for long.
“It’s an interesting gift,” she said, holding the gun in her hand, getting used to the weight of it. Still she looked frightened of it, as if she wished to throw it away.
“Do you know how to use it?” I persisted.
“Yes. My father was a cop,” she said, returning the gun to its box and sitting it on the coffee table. “I grew up around guns. I fired my first rifle when I was eight-years-old. I don’t like guns though. A gun killed my father when he put it to his own head.”
I stared at her, uncertain of what to say. I knew I should feel something after her declaration, but I didn’t. There had been so much loss in my life, all caused by me. I couldn’t bring myself to feel for a man who would take his own life when he lived in blissful normalcy. His selfishness felt like a personal insult.
It was worse because his disregard for his own life was likely to end his daughter’s life as well. She wouldn’t want the gun, not after that. That gun was her only chance to survive once the urge took over me. How else could I help her—help myself?
“That’s terrible,” I said, hoping my words held some small element of sincerity. I could never explain to her that her father was a selfish, horrible man. She didn’t need to hear that.
“The thought was sweet, but I’d prefer you took the gun away,” she told me. “I’ll be fine. I just don’t want a gun in my home.”
I nodded. I had no other choice. How could I argue with that?
“I’ll get rid of it,” I promised, pulling her from the arm of the chair onto my lap.
Eleanor welcomed me to her bed that night. It wasn’t a first, but it was special. With the urge gnawing at me, demanding that she die, it felt good to deny it while I embraced her. But, in the end, I knew the urge would win out. It always did. I had a huge list of victims to prove it.
She slept in my arms, her head resting on my chest, soft hair tickling against my neck and chin. I wanted to stay like that forever. Heat radiated from her body, making me feel safe. Having her in my arms was a great gift.
A gift that could never last. My body began to tremble, despite the warmth of her room. Pain ceased my chest, reminding me that it was time for another heart. My fingers tingled, preparing to stretch into claws, ready to rip my love’s precious heart, still beating from her chest.
Gently, I pushed her soft body aside and stood up. I couldn’t stay. If I did, the urge would only grow stronger and I would be forced to attack that night. By leaving, I could offer her a few more nights before the worst happened.
I grabbed my coat from the floor, and retrieved the gun from my pocket, once more. She didn’t want it. I understood that, but I didn’t care. She needed it. Hopefully, there would be a day that she’d understand why I ignored her wishes. A day when she lived on and I was gone.
Staring at her mahogany dresser, I reached towards the top drawer. During all my visits to her room, I’d never seen her open that drawer. Peaking inside, I saw only a few flashy t-shirts that I was confident she would never wear. She was too elegant for such things.
Sitting the gun atop the t-shirts, I kissed her on the forehead, and fled from her house. I would go home and wait until the urge could be denied no longer. Then Eleanor would have her chance to defeat true evil or die at its claws.
It happened three days later. My body convulsed. The urge could be denied no longer. If I resisted, I would lose consciousness and the deed would be done. I’d wake to find the body of my lover in my arms, blood from her heart dripping down my chin.
Eventually, I’d black out, but I wanted it to be later rather than sooner. I wanted to be awake for every excruciating detail. After all, I had high hopes that this would be the night of my death, not hers. I didn’t want to miss my last few moments on Earth, no matter how bleak and painful they could be.
Stumbling to my feet, I scooped my car keys off the floor. I didn’t even have a table to toss them on. Why buy a table? I knew I’d be there only a short time. There was no reason to make any place feel like a home. Monsters didn’t have homes. They had underground lairs, and I didn’t even have that.
In the car, my vision was distorted by pain. It took me three tries to fit the key into the ignition, and even the most obvious landmarks were blurred beyond recognition. My apartment building was nothing more than a smear of red lost in the surrounding blue, which had been the bright afternoon sky.
I put the car in reverse, with no concern for my visual difficulties. I knew I’d reach Eleanor’s house without doing harm to myself or others. When the urge took over I was not lead by my usual senses. Something different—something unnatural leads my body towards its target.
When I stopped the car I opened my eyes to find myself parked in from of Eleanor’s home. My vision had cleared and the pain in my chest subsided. The urge was content. It knew it would soon be fulfilled.
I wanted to wait, take a few minutes to truly prepare myself, but I knew it was time. I couldn’t wait until the urge was completely upon me. If I waited too long, my true self would be lost in the urge’s power and I wouldn’t be able to tell Eleanor about the gun. I couldn’t let that happen.
Feeling unsteady, I climbed out of the car and stumbled up the stairs to her front door. I tried the knob, hoping to slip in and find Eleanor in her room. The closer she was to the gun when this began, the better chance she’d have. Unfortunately, the door was locked. Knocking was my only option.
As I banged feverishly on the door, I wasn’t uncertain if I was trying to save her or kill her. With each passing second, the urge grew stronger.
Eleanor threw opened the door and glared at me. The kindness in her eyes had been replaced by rage. I didn’t understand her anger, but couldn’t take the time to contemplate it. I was beginning to sweat. I could hear her heart beating in her chest. There wasn’t much time.
“What are you doing here?” she demanded, crossing her slender arms over her chest, slightly muffling the sound of her heart.
“Your dresser drawer,” I choked, hiding my hands in my pockets. I could feel my fingers stretching, growing into claws. The one physical change brought on by the urge. I guess I needed the claws to rip opened the chests of my loved ones.
“I know what you put in there,” she growled. “After everything I told you. How could you?”
Her anger suddenly made sense. She found the gun. She knew I’d lied. Now she would die. Once again, I failed to protect the one I loved from my curse.
“The gun,” I insisted. The pain was worsening. I could feel the claws through the fine fabric of my pants.
“I threw it out,” she yelled. “Just like I’m going to do to you.”
“I wish you hadn’t,” I told her.
Those were my last conscious words. The urge took over.
The next thing I remembered was her body, lying on the floor beside me. Her eyes and mouth were opened in an expression of terror. Her chest was gone, replaced with only a large gaping hole that spilled her blood.
As always a shriek of raw pain escaped from me. I sobbed for her loss and mine. But ultimately, I didn’t spend much time mourning. My whole life had been nothing more than mourning. A little more could hardly penetrate the surface of my eternal torment.
When my moment of anguish had passed I picked myself off the floor and returned to the car. It was time to leave. In the end, I would always flee, moving on to the next town, looking for a new love. Maybe the next one would be different or maybe I would continue to do the devil’s bidding until the sweet release of death finally found me.