Web Site: Creature of Habit by Christopher Wittkugle
A stalker hunts a woman and her boyfriend across a modern city, but the hunt ends in an unexpected manner.
Creature of Habit
The sun was setting behind the skyline of the city. The office buildings and hotels that dominated downtown were outlined against a backdrop of dark blue with streaks of amber and purple running through it. It was Friday night and the party crowd was beginning to rouse and move about. This Friday night was different than most, however. I knew that before the sun rose on Saturday morning, I would take another life.
It had been hot that year. Damned hot. August was proving to be most unforgiving. As I recall it, almost everyday in that horrid month had record-breaking high temperatures somewhere in the state. Today had been no exception. As I walked down the still-scorching sidewalk, I could feel the large wet spots under my arms grow larger and wetter. Wearing that damned-some overcoat was brutal, but I had always worn it when I was out hunting. I could say something about the way old habits die, but I’m sure you’ve heard it before.
I stopped and waited at the bus stop on the corner of Main and High. The last bus of the evening would be coming along in due time. There was a small crowd milling about the small shelter erected at the stop, and I took my place off to the side. I stood quietly, not making eye contact with anyone. No one took much notice of me, that I could tell. Just as it should be.
I had ridden this bus several times recently, so I recognized a few regulars. There was the old gentleman who often danced and sang for spare change and cigarettes. And there was that young chap what always smelt of cheap cologne and beer. There were a few others, but they were not noteworthy in the least. Besides, after tonight, I would most likely never see any of them again.
Soon the large silver and blue bus lumbered up to the aluminum and glass bivouac and stopped. My fellow travelers and I shuffled aboard and found our seats. I sat near the rear of the vessel, as usual, and waited patiently for this final commute to get underway.
We soon rolled through the intersection and then on for three more blocks. There we pulled into the stop that I was interested in.
As the new group of passengers climbed aboard, I watched the door out of the corner of my eye. After the fifth person came up the steps, I saw her. She stepped onto the transport with that same air of sophistication and confidence that first attracted me to her. And right behind her, as always, was another of her Friday night companions. She was a creature of habit, indeed. This fellow looked just like all the others I had witnessed her collect over the past two months or so. Hand in hand, they made their way to the rear of the bus and sat in the seat directly in front of me. As they approached, I turned my head to the window and stared out at nothing in particular.
It wasn’t until we were moving again that I faced forward. I tried to keep my gaze focused on the back of her seat, but I found myself glancing occasionally up at her straight red hair, which was barely visible above the back of the seat.
She was a stunningly beautiful woman, to say the very least. Her green eyes accented her auburn locks perfectly. Her frame was lithe with slightly curving hips and probably the most perfect pair of breasts I have ever seen. Her skin was pale and she always wore very dark eye liner and lipstick. Tonight she wore a black mini-skirt and a sheer lace top. She had rarely looked better. It was really no surprise that she found these male companions of hers with such ease.
The dark-haired gentleman with her tonight was just one of many that I had observed her with these past few weeks. I wondered if he would look at her with the same lustful intent if he knew that he would most likely be dead in a short while because of her.
I did not know her name, that would create a danger of being linked to her. I needed to be a stranger in all ways. I knew only what I needed to know: where she lived and what her habits were.
Also, I knew what she did with her boyfriends on each and every Friday night.
In all honesty, her name was inconsequential to me. I had watched others like her before, and she was no different. I had ended their wicked, sinful lives and I would end hers too. Tonight.
I tried to listen in on the hushed conversation that was drifting back to me from over the seat. I had never been this close to her before and it was making me a little uncomfortable, but also strangely excited. A little sense of danger might help me; keep me from getting sloppy. In all the time that I had been watching her, she never once took notice of me. Not once. That was her mistake, one she would soon come to regret.
I could not follow the conversation completely, but I could tell that it was highly sexual in nature. She was working her magic on the poor lad, with promises of the deviant acts they would soon be performing to each other. He seemed very excited about the agenda. No surprise there, really. He was a man, after all, and the little witch was certainly good with her ways of seduction.
The lights of the street lamps ticked by outside the window as we rolled through the city. After a while, we started making the final stops of the line. My prey would be departing at the next to last stop, right on the edge of the old German part of town. I would disembark at the end of the line and walk back to her brick townhouse. I had done so several times before, so I knew the route well enough.
As we slowed for their stop, the pair stood and began walking to the front. I could not help but notice the large bulge in the front of the gent’s trousers that broadcast his excitement. Just like all those who had went before him, he was a slave to her now.
They were laughing as they exited and held hands as they started walking toward her abode. I watched them as we pulled away from the curb. I almost felt sorry for the chap. He was expecting a night of eroticism and adventure, but would most assuredly end up dead. Just as dead as her. A real pity, to be sure. But alas, that is the way of things. Sometimes, adventures don’t have a happy ending.
We soon came to my stop, and like so many times before, I stepped onto the corner of Blenkner and Mound Streets. I would not need to hurry; my prey would be busy with each other for quite a while. She loved to take her time with the boys. I learned patience a long time ago. I could wait for a little while.
I stepped into a little corner cafe that served, at best, a mediocre cup of cappuccino. I had patronized the establishment a few times before, and was sure that I would not miss coming to the place again after tonight.
I drank my coffee and pretended to read a newspaper. The only sections I took real interest in were the religious commentaries and the obituaries. Only the waitress noticed me, coming to offer a few refills of the brown frothy liquid that passed for gourmet coffee. I was pleased with the anonymity. I was used to being separate and alone.
After about thirty minutes, I took my leave. I went back outside and started the short trek to her house. While I walked, I felt around inside the right pocket of that damned overcoat and found my lock pick. I fingered the tool absent-mindedly as I got closer to her residence. I would have to enter the premises quickly, as the only door faced the open street. However, I had never seen her speak to any of her neighbors. That would make it a bit easier, they might not know me as a stranger if they happened to see me going in.
I had been glad when I discovered early on that she lived in the entire building. I had learned with a few of my previous subjects that single women in apartment houses usually had a male neighbor who constantly watched their every move. Deviants, usually, who touched themselves as they watched the woman through the cracks in their window shades or peep-holes of their doors. Most often, they were too scared to actually confront me, but had no trouble in ringing up the local police station. I had been in some close scrapes because of those perverts, to be sure.
Suburban women were the hardest. It seemed that they knew everyone in the neighborhood, and everyone knew them. But by far and large, women in the country were easiest. The houses were usually far enough apart to allow me to enter with out detection.
This one here, she would be little trouble, at least as far as witnesses would go. She was a loner.
I strolled along, looking up at the Eastern European architecture that was prominent on most of the buildings in this area. It reminded me a bit of home. It had been several years since I first came to the States, and hadn’t been back there at all. I had never really wanted to leave Europe, but my job demanded that I come, so I did.
I mused on this a bit, and before long, I was meters from her front door. I withdrew my hand from my pocket, the lock pick hidden in the palm and walked directly up the short flight of steps to her welcome mat. Without looking around, I inserted the tool into the lock and with a few twists and pulls, had the door open.
I stepped into the foyer and gently pushed the door shut behind me. Lingering there for a moment, I listened. I could hear nothing in the darkness. I took a cautious step forward, being very careful not to make a sound.
The foyer opened into the living room and kitchen. I had watched her move about inside and knew that she always went to the kitchen first. I slowly crept into that room, taking great care to be silent on the tile floor. Once I reached the center of the room, I stopped once more to listen. I could still hear nothing.
I looked around the room, at the cabinets and counter tops. There, sitting on the counter by the stove was what I was looking for: her purse. I slowly made my way over to the black leather bag. With a steady hand, I opened it. I felt around inside it until I grasped what I had hoped would be inside. I withdrew the small, rectangular item. It was her address book. I fanned the pages quickly. Each page was written on and I smiled. Maybe she had some girlfriends that I would be interested in meeting. Something told me she might.
There were always girlfriends.
I stuffed the book into my pocket and crept over to the door at the rear of the kitchen that led down to the basement. That was where she took her boy-toys, down into the basement. I had never seen what was down there; the small windows at ground level were painted black on the inside. I was fairly confident that she had a proper little room set up down there, complete with whips and chains and all manner of deviant devices. I would soon find out.
With my left hand, I pulled the door open. My right hand found it’s way inside my heavy overcoat and I grasped the handle of the blade that hung tightly against my ribs. Leaning inward, over the stairs, I could hear no sounds from the darkness below. I waited a moment to allow my eyes to adjust to the low level of light, then took a slow cautious step downward. I eased my right foot onto the first riser, making no noise. I then proceeded, exercising the same caution at every step, until I was at the small landing at the base of the stairs. The only egress from the staircase was a heavy wooden door on the right side of the landing.
I leaned in closer to the door; what an elaborate thing it was! It was made of a dark mahogany, with a large panel in the center. The panel was trimmed with gold inlay, as was the edge of the door itself. Engraved in the panel was a the image of a forest nymph, dancing nude in the moonlight as an entranced man looked on from the background.
With my ear close to the nymph’s head, I could now hear a low and muffled voice emanating from the room beyond. It had a slow rhythm to it, but as I listened, I could tell it was slowly becoming faster and more intense.
Now was the time. I must act quickly. I had to strike while the two were occupied with themselves. In all probability, I would have to bring her to floor first, as I suspected that the gentleman would be restrained by leather bonds or possibly iron manacles or cuffs. He would most likely have to watch as I took my prize. So be it.
With a deep breath I turned the golden knob with my left hand, and tightened my grip on the dagger by my breast. I slammed the door with my shoulder and it gave way easily, swinging inward a full one hundred eighty degrees and bouncing against the wall with a loud boom.
The scene that was before me now was a familiar one to my eyes. Against the far wall, the poor dark-haired fellow was suspended upside down and fully nude. He had a gag in his mouth, and blood flowed down his body from several small wounds on his torso. Long, surgical steel rods had freshly pierced both of his nipples, and his genitals were mutilated in a similar fashion, with the addition of a leather thong wrapped tightly around them, pulling them upward toward his feet. Through the blood on his face, I could see that his expression was a combination of excruciating pain and surprise.
Standing just off to his left, was his tormenter. She, also fully nude, was standing inside an encircled pentagram, a perverted symbol of her religion, that had been engraved into the stone floor. She had her back to me as I burst in, her hands held high above her head. In her right, she held a long wicked looking dagger, with a curved blade that was coated in blood. When she heard the cacophonous boom of my entry, she quickly turned to face me. She began to speak in a devilish tongue that had a fevered intensity.
Without hesitation, I leapt toward her, pulling my own weapon in midair. She lowered her hands at me, and a bright green light began to coalesce around her fingertips.
As if propelled by the hand of God Himself, my speed seemed to increase and before she could finish her incantation, I struck her shoulder with the dagger that had been blessed (many years ago) by the Pope himself. She shrieked in agony as the green light disappeared and I hit the floor, prone.
Without thinking, I was back on my feet, whirling around to face her. My blow had stopped her initial attack, but she was already gathering her energies for another attempt. I lunged, my dagger flicking out and up, catching her under the jaw. She spun away from me, screaming once again with hateful intensity. Blood spurted from the wound on her neck, but she was not incapacitated yet. She ducked my next swing, and followed with a blow of her own. Her long fingernails raked down my left cheek and I could feel an instant burning there, like the flames of Hell. Some sort of poison, most likely. I would need to finish this quickly.
Reeling backward from the blow, I said a quick prayer and hurled my dagger at her. It turned end over end as it flew threw the air. Time seemed to slow down for me as I watched its flight. The force of my throw, combined with the momentum of her blow, caused me to lose my balance. As I fell to the floor, my weapon found its mark. With a loud crack, followed by a deep, hollow thud, it planted itself deep into her forehead.
Her head snapped back, and then came forward again. Her eyes were rolled back, showing the whites. A soft whimper came from her lips as she slumped forward and fell face-down on the cold floor. I lay there for a moment, catching my breath. I could feel the poison in my cheek getting warmer as it entered my bloodstream. I had to finish and get back to the chapel.
Slowly, I stood up. My gaze went to the upside-down gentleman. His eyes were wide, with horror, surprise or relief. Perhaps all three, I couldn’t tell. I took my eyes off of him and looked at the figure on the floor before me. I began to feel dizzy as bent to roll her over and retrieve my dagger.
With a sickening sound, the blade slid out of her skull easily. The wound was beginning to open wider as the blessing upon the blade was working its magic. I cleaned the blade with a small rag I had pulled from my pocket and sheathed it. I then took out the flask of holy water that I kept in my breast pocket and opened the spout.
I began to recite the Lord’s Prayer as I poured the contents of the flask on the body. Immediately, the flesh began to bubble and melt. A foul stench filled the room as the remains quickly deteriorated. Soon there was nothing but a slick-looking black spot on the floor that was vaguely the shape of the outline of her body. That too, would soon disappear. As I finished the prayer, I was distracted by a grunt. It was the last of the her victims attempting to yell for help.
I turned back to face him; his eyes were now wider than before. I could tell now that it was terror that gripped him. I made my way over to him, and released his bonds. It was rather time consuming in the area of his mangled genitals. Finally, he was free and I helped him to his feet. He swooned and I grabbed his arm. He sat down on the floor and frantically untied the gag.
“Wha... Wha...” He tried to speak, but his body began to shake uncontrollably. I turned to the door and took a step toward the stairs. The fire in my cheek was growing, and I could feel my breathing becoming more labored. My stomach was also starting to cramp. I need to get back to the chapel. Now. Padre Dimitri would know the proper prayers to heal me, if the Lord so willed it.
I walked to the door, which still stood open and stepped onto the first stair. From behind me, a weak voice asked: “Who... are... you?”
Without turning, I replied in a voice almost as weak: “I am but a shepherd, brother, tending to the Lord's Flock.”
©copyright 2005 Christopher Wittkugle
All rights reserved.
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