I seem to be having a tough time coming up with my usual posts at the moment, most likely because it’s the middle of summer, and the kids are out of school, and time to sit and think is at a premium right now. Fortunately, there seems to be no shortage of fiction waiting to be written! In the middle of a longer project that I and my fellow contributor Cyndera have in the works right now, I’m also working on my short story series, which can be found here.
This story, like the previous entry, is the result of a writing prompt, which says “A murderer kills his victim, but what happens next makes him regret it…” It’s my shortest piece yet, with the exception of some of the Ridgeline Drive entries, at only 879 words. I hope you’ll enjoy it.
All stories posted in this capacity may also be found under the “Stories” heading in the menu. Thanks for reading!
I planned the crime for weeks. You’ve seen those crime shows on TV…man, I always just laugh at those things. They make it look like just anybody can get away with this stuff! That’s ridiculous. What I do isn’t chaos, it’s an art, and like all good art, it takes skill and preparation.
So I stalked the guy. I made sure that I knew his routines, and I made sure I knew darn well that there was no traceable connection between myself and him. I’m thorough, you know. On further reflection, that’s probably where the trouble started…maybe I’m TOO thorough. But I’m getting ahead of myself, now.
What? Oh, don’t give me that psychopath crock. I’m not a psychopath, I just like what I do. Everybody needs a hobby.
I made the hit late at night on a Friday. Maybe I was showing off a little, not that anyone really would know it was me. I followed him into that club, and sat through three hours of bad music, good liquor (but not too much—drinking on the job is like bad karma), and truly pitiful dancing. Finally he left, and I followed him to his car, with considerably less weaving than he was displaying. I caught up to him, and spun him around, and put my gun to his chest, and pulled the trigger. Easy. One shot, and it was done. The strip was so loud anyway, no one heard the shot, and his chest took the muzzle flash. I rifled his pockets for his cash—didn’t need it, it just gives the cops something to think about—and walked away, whistling a tune.
“Hey!” I stopped. Wasn’t that…nah. I started to walk again. “HEY! Are you just gonna LEAVE me here like this?”
Slowly I turned around. The guy stood there, one hand on the car door, blood running down his popped-collar shirt from the truly epic chest wound he was wearing. “Heh,” I murmured, “Alright, heck of a trick. Who’s doing this?” I called, before I caught myself and realized I didn’t want to be heard here. My mind was reaching around for an explanation, though, even if I hadn’t realized it yet. Little stars peppered the edges of my vision, but I kept a smile on.
“You can’t leave me here,” the guy repeated. “I’m SUPPOSED to be dead.”
“You…I, ah…what?” I stammered. I didn’t stammer! Get a grip, I told myself.
He sighed, blood burbling in his chest as he did. “Look, man, I can tell you don’t get it. It’s like this.” He cleared his throat, a bizarre sound under the circumstances. “You know how they say, if you save a man’s life, you become responsible for him?”
“Yeah, I got that,” I said, completely disregarding the fact that I was having a conversation with a corpse, that I had just killed. “Some kind of star wars wookiee life-debt thing.”
He made an impatient face, like a teacher explaining to a stubborn kid. “Well, there you go,” he said.
“There I go where?” I said. “Last I checked, I didn’t save your life, I took it.” Top THAT logic!
“Exactly!” he said triumphantly.
“You’re not making sense,” I said, and couldn’t help thinking that neither was I.
“Urgh,” he said. “Look, if you save a man’s life, you become responsible for it. That means you’re responsible for keeping him alive from then on. With me so far?” I nodded. “This is the same. If you take a man’s life, it’s your responsibility to keep him dead from then on.”
“Oh,” I said, “well, why didn’t you say so?” I raised the gun and emptied it into his chest.
He jerked under the gunfire—really, if I walked away now without any attention, it would be a miracle—and fell to the ground, slumped against the car. I gave him a glance, and then smirked, and threw the gun at him with one gloved hand; it made a satisfying thock as it bounced off his head. “That’s for being all metaphysical,” I said, and turned to go.
I got in my own car, and let out a sigh, not relief so much as tension leaving me. I put the key in, and I even managed to keep facing forward when the passenger door opened and closed. “Hey, I never said this would be easy,” the guy said. “Nice car, by the way. I’ll try not to get any blood on the seats, but I gotta tell you, you made that a little tough. So, you wanna try this again? I know a good bridge you could push me off. Hey, fire this thing up—I don’t have all night! What are we waiting for?”