by Mackenzie Cartier
You look around the desolate tube station. No one, as usual. You scan the emptiness trying to find someone to talk to as the cold seeps into your bones causing you to shiver. Loneliness invades your mind, reminding you how, silenced, you are forced to hide behind a polite smile while your darker side fights for dominance.
“Remember, people can do worse things than kill you,” a small melodic voice whispered, your muscles stiffening as you hold your breath. Turning on your heels, you see the back of a five-year-old child, his small shoulder blades protruding awkwardly from his white t-shirt, patches of dirty blonde hair masking the monster underneath.
His decaying skin dripping off his bones, and the smell of rotten flesh defiling your nose. You remain frozen in fear watching as his head begins to malevolently turn towards you. His spinal cord severed with a crack, the skin on his neck ripping like a piece of paper as his tendons popped unable to withstand the strain. His baby blues meet your own; his smile an empty pit of razor teeth dripping with saliva.
Closing your eyes, you cover your mouth, muffling a desperate cry for help, stumbling back into the tile beside the Hyde Park Corner logo, too colorful against the bare platform walls. Realizing you cannot escape; you peak through a bed of eyelashes. His body is now completely facing your own, and blood dripping down his front onto neatly pressed jeans. The child’s pitch-black eyes begin to mirror your every movement, silently stalking from within the confines of the tube platform.
As the dirty ivory walls close in, your pulse begins to race, breath quickening, adrenaline spiking, goosebumps forming from within your skin as the temperature steadily drops around you. A hungry expression dominates his features, becoming more predator than human; his spine elongates allowing his neck to fluidly collapse toward his feet as his rib cage expands outward. He awkwardly dislocates his elbows with a sickening pop; his hands welcome the ground.
The last thing you see is his gray form, arrogantly charging at you like a spider for a fly caught within its web. Your heart skips a beat, shuddering with recognition, for you know who he is the ghost haunting your nightmares, the “you” from your previous life.
He lunges at you; your head screams in agony as your body crumbles beneath you.
The light rain dances on your face, slowly dragging you back into reality. You look up from your hood, for the dreary London darkness is overwhelming your eyes, pupils dilating, grabbing for any remnants of light. Smirking to yourself, you think how the city always finds a way to play with your deepest fantasies. Even it admires your work as streets run red with pleasure.
Standing like a shadow, you observe tourists gawk at the mundane, as if they had never seen anything like it. Of course, they are not aware of you, always invisible to their blind eyes.
The hole in your right boot welcomes water inside as you walk. Slithering down Commercial Street, you find your favorite bar.
Walking into The Ten Bells, you instantly glide into the winding booth at the rear. You love it because the painting beside you is the modern image of its twin across the mahogany bar. The painting boasts a strait-laced older businessman turning from an eccentric man adorned with a striped shirt and tight red leather pants.
Standing, you cross the small bar to the painting’s brother. This one brings you back to the times of redcoats, wigs, and voluptuous skirts.
Returning to your booth, you feel his eyes on you as if he is peeling your skin away. Politely, you turn to him smiling, even as your mind curates every way to skin and gut the stranger. You imagine plunging your favorite knife into his soft neck, condemning him to his last few moments as the scent of iron wafts into your nostrils. Euphoria overcomes all of your senses; your toes respond by curling in delight.
You open your eyes to the steaming plate of steak and broccoli you ordered, as you begin to carnivorously engulf the filet mignon, the juices mixed with blood drip helplessly onto the plate.
After finishing every scrap of food on your plate, you slip your hand into the back pocket of your jeans, closing your hand around the worn wallet your grandfather gave to you before passing away. Carefully, you remove a crisp twenty-pound note and slide it into the check booklet the bubbly blonde waitress had daintily placed onto your table.
Outside the bar you lose yourself in thought, until you find a stranger wandering toward the door like a stray puppy, so you silently chuckle to yourself.
“Hello,” your voice is too welcoming, eyes reaching theirs. Your footsteps are heavy on the cobblestones. “Where are you headed tonight?”
“The Ten Bells,” the stranger’s pungent breath drowning you in rotten eggs and stale beer.
Your eyelids attempt to cover your eyes, your nose burning with agony, so desperate to shield you against the toxic smell. Breathing effortlessly, you present yourself as a sexual object luring them into the alley next to the bar. Pinning them against the brick wall within the desolate alley, you close your hand around their waist teasing. You can feel their body responding with resounding pleasure to your touch.
Enclosed in silence with your face dark to the stranger, you roll your eyes. People are so foolish, like a fly drawn into the enticing beauty of a light. Your hand descends down, reaching the higher part of their thigh, and you instinctively move your hands until you find the proper placement of where the femoral artery should be within the inner thigh.
“Higher,” they moan, attempting to move your hand toward their groin, assuming your intentions.
With a glint of silver, you remove the dagger from the secret compartment concealed within your navy pea coat.
“You mean deeper,” you coo into their crusty ear, thrusting the blade into their left thigh, creating a six-centimeter gash through an overly pressed black suit pant leg.
“You,” the stranger begins, voice raspy as you cover their mouth, cutting off a final attempt to call you a derogatory slur.
This is how it always happens; you think to yourself as you watch as their lower body becomes soaked in blood, folding in upon itself: a heap of bones, flesh, and broken desires.
You turn away from the stranger, and your eyes wander to the puddle you had not noticed before. Your face reflects back, but it is no longer your own. Your reflection mirrors pitch black eyes, and a smile too large for your face full of razor teeth.
“Remember, people can do worse things than kill you,” your mirrored image reminds you in your own voice, turning your blood cold.