He lurked in the shadows, waiting and hoping she wouldn’t take a different route. This was her usual route. He knew that; he knew her. Obscured by the two looming buildings he stood between, he pleaded with whatever higher power there was, for tonight to be no different.
Maybe she would get a call from a friend and decide to go in a different direction. Her shift finished five minutes earlier. The lurker mentally traced her steps to this point. Two minutes at her pace — unless she worked overtime or someone gave her a lift.
They rarely did though.
He took a deep breath.
“Don’t mess this up,” he thought, unsure whether the words were to himself or to her – by changing her plans and deciding not to walk in his direction, despite spending the last two weeks passing the spot he now waited at.
It would be just like her to mess up his planning. Just like all of them. Then came the clicking of her heels, and the smell of perfume confirming it was her; the scent of apple which prompted him to lick his lips. Or perhaps it was the anticipation of what he was about to do. None of the food she ever gave him made him feel this way.
Patience, he told himself as his feet seemed to develop a mind of their own, tugging at his legs in an attempt to cut her off.
One second. His legs readied themselves. NOW.
He sprang out of his hiding place — darting after her until she turned around. He toyed with her for a while, allowing her to think she might have a chance at escape. The real fear showed in her eyes when he grabbed her arms, pinning them to her sides. He smiled when he saw her long red hair. It almost looked like a flame underneath the streetlamp. He was about to extinguish that fire.
She recognised the familiar face. Her body went rigid as he reached into his jacket and pulled out the knife, reminding him of the time he had to pretend to be a plank in the school play. She would have made a good plank, but that wouldn’t be her role tonight. He had gone over the plan in his mind. The victim struggled, unsuccessfully of course, but it was fun. His mind was already skipping ahead to the outcome.
“What are you…?” she began — bringing him back to reality, which wasn’t playing out like he imagined it would. Something needed to be done to get things back on track. This was a moment to savour, not rush.
He kept his hands on her arms and tilted his head to kiss her lips. Her breath was minty; the source of the mint flavour (her chewing gum) was still in her mouth. He rolled it onto his tongue, then removed his hand from her right arm so he could take the gum and pocket it. He wanted a souvenir. That would be better than nothing.
She screamed, forcing him to clamp her mouth shut with his hand. Even the pain of teeth mauling at his hand wasn’t enough to deter him. The struggle had begun.