So this here is my second attempt at writing prose fiction, but only my first completed story (the first attempt is currently gestating in its rough-draft phase). Interestingly enough, I wrote a version of the last sentence before I’d even decided to flesh-out a story from the simple idea that spawned it (the story would ultimately mutate – as ideas often do – into something a bit different than what I had originally intended). I hope you’ll enjoy reading it as much as I had writing it.
The fog was dense outside. Peering out of his second floor apartment, Carlos could barely see past the trees across the street. Standing with his head pressed against the window, he deliberated. His need for sustenance was fast outweighing his fear of leaving the safety of his abode. His fridge offered very little in the way of a proper meal and the hunger pains were growing exponentially louder.
“Carlos, get ahold of yourself, ya puss’,” he muttered to himself. “It’ll take all but a few minutes to run on over to the market. You’ll be totally fine.”
The local newscast was on in the background. The distinguished-looking gentleman expounded about the recent killings in the city. Four bodies total had been found over the past few weeks, or more specifically, pieces of what previously existed as four complete people. The person or persons responsible remained at large.
“Come on, man,” Carlos mouthed at the television. “Catch this sick fuck already.”
He paced the length of his living room a few times before making it over to the fridge and opening it for the second time, as if half expecting its contents to be different. Still empty. “Fuck it,” Carlos said to himself as he closed the fridge door and grabbed his house keys from the counter, “I’ll just have to be quick.” His need for food finally triumphant over his fear of losing life and limb.
The hallway leading to his parking garage seemed to stretch on for miles. He was walking so fast as he turned the corner to descend the stairwell that he nearly tackled Mrs. Johnson in apartment 22B.
“Boy! What’s got you runnin’ like the devil himself is chasin’ ya?” Mrs. Johnson exclaimed.
Carlos composed himself. “Oh my God, I’m so sorry Mrs. Johnson. Just trying to make it to the market and back before my show starts.” He tried to play it off, but Carlos’ near collision with his elderly neighbor had scared the shit out of him. His heart was still racing.
“It’s just a show, son. No need to go runnin’ anybody down because of it.” Mrs. Johnson said as she continued down the hallway towards her apartment.
Carlos wished Mrs. Johnson a good night – to the back of her head anyway – and made his way down the stairwell to his car. As he entered the underground garage he stopped for a second to survey the area. All looked as it should. Making a beeline straight for his Civic, he unlocked the door, jumped in, and quickly locked it again. So far so good – Carlos thought. He slid the key into the ignition and started the car. As he glanced into the rear-view mirror, movement flashed in his peripheral. “Fuck!” He shouted, as a stray cat slunk under the car next to his. “I swear to God I’m gonna kill that fuckin’ thing someday,” he muttered as he pulled out of his parking space and exited the garage. He was now en route.
Once the car was moving in a forward motion, a wave of relief shrouded Carlos. The market wasn’t far from his apartment and the sooner he arrived, the sooner he could pick up some food and get the hell back home – he thought. This whole serial-killer business had most folks in the surrounding area on edge, especially with three of the four victims’ bodies being found close by.
Carlos pulled into the parking lot and turned the engine off. He sat still for a few seconds looking around. There were plenty of folks. The more people within the vicinity, the safer he felt.
The market was bustling with people on this Friday night. Carlos quickly picked up what he had come for: some beef, veggies, a few spices, and a baguette. As he was making his way to the counter, he spotted a familiar face. Actually, one he had been enamored with for quite some time. Her name was Katherine Flores and she was a doctor at the clinic Carlos worked for. A statuesque Colombian woman in her 30s with long flowing dark brown hair and olive skin. She wore a pair of cute hipster glasses and a smile that could stop anyone – man or woman – in their tracks.
“Hey you,” Katherine said as she and Carlos locked gazes. “What brings you out on this Friday night?” Feeling like the answer to her question was self-evident, Katherine quickly backtracked with a bit of embarrassment. “Aaaand that would be fairly obvious, wouldn’t it?”
Carlos thought to himself that her blushing accentuated her beautiful face even more. “Hunger pains and a lack of, well, just about anything in my fridge.” Carlos responded. “And how are you this evening, Ms. Flores?”
“Meh, ya know, exhausted as always,” Katherine sighed. “Saw a ton of patients today. Haven’t had a chance to eat much because of it and if this isn’t rectified soon, I’m afraid tonight’s full moon is gonna transform me into a hairy raging hormonal beast.” Carlos and Katherine both laughed. “Maaaybe that was a bit too much information.” Katherine said, blushing again in the process as she looked down at the ground and smiled.
“Well, if I don’t get some food in my belly, this place is gonna be crawling with two hairy raging hormonal beasts.” Carlos said, rubbing his stomach as he flashed two fingers in front of Katherine’s face. “I am manstruating myself, ya know.”
Katherine let out a huge booming laugh as Carlos joined in.
“This may be a bit forward of me, but seeing as we are both about to stuff our faces, would you like to come over and join me?” Katherine asked.
Playing it cool, Carlos responded, “That sounds like a fantastic idea, ma’am.” His inner monologue screaming with enthusiasm.
“On one condition,” Katherine pointed a finger at Carlos, eyes narrowing, a stern expression washing over her face, “you have the honor of peeling the potatoes.” She said, her sternness quickly transforming into a smile.
“Tis would be an honor all mine, milady.” Carlos said as he gave her a dramatic bow fitting of a queen during Shakespeare’s time.
“What’s on the menu for tonight?” Carlos inquired as he rubbed his hands together in anticipation.
“Well, I figured since you have three pounds of lean ground beef in your cart, I could cook us up some Carne Afanada.” Katherine said.
“Sounds delicious, but what is it?” Carlos asked.
“It’s essentially meatloaf, but with our Colombian flair,” Katherine said as she threw her arms upward and snapped her fingers in a sort of Carnaval-de-Barranquilla-dance pose.
“My mouth is salivatin’ already. Let’s skedaddle and get on with our feeding frenzy.” Carlos said as he smacked his lips.
They both paid for their respective items and exited the market. They headed towards Katherine’s Mercedes where Carlos helped to load her items into the trunk.
“So, my dear man, just follow me to my place. It’s not far down the road.”
“Sounds good.” Carlos said as he grabbed his things and walked to his car.
Katherine waited until Carlos pulled his Civic around behind her. Once she spotted him in her rear-view mirror, she turned on the ignition, pulled forward out of the parking lot, and they were both on their way.
“What a night this has turned out to be!” Carlos said out loud to himself as he followed behind Katherine. If I had stayed home, cowering inside, I would have never run into Kathy AND be headed over to her place for dinner. FINALLY the universe throws me a tiny morsel – Carlos thought. “Thank-you-baby-Jesus!” He shouted with laughter. His fear of losing life and limb a fading distant memory.
Katherine’s house wasn’t too far of a drive from the market. It was located in a nice residential area; the kind of area Carlos wished he could afford to live in someday. Or I can just charm my way into the good doctor’s heart, become her lesser half, and move into HER place – Carlos thought as he chuckled to himself.
Katherine turned into her driveway and Carlos drove ahead, pulling into an open spot on the street a few houses down. Walking up to her house he noticed the front door was ajar and music was playing inside. As he entered, Katherine was there to greet him with Francis Albert Sinatra crooning in the background. “Luck Be A Lady” was coincidentally one of Carlos’ favorite Sinatra tunes. The universe is definitely smiling down upon me tonight – he thought.
“Hello, good sir. Welcome to Casa de Flores. What do ya think?”
“You have a beautiful home, Kathy.”
“Close the door and I’ll give you the official tour.” Katherine said as she gestured for Carlos to follow her.
Carlos closed the door, put his grocery bag of food on her kitchen counter, and followed Katherine down the hallway. The house was two stories with an enormous amount of space for just one person.
Man, this place is amazing – Carlos thought to himself as he examined the Van Gogh and Dalí paintings hanging from the walls.
“These aren’t the real-deals, are they?” Carlos asked as he pointed to the paintings he had just been admiring.
“Don’t I wish. They’re just copies.” Katherine said as she turned and pointed to the room on their right. “This here is my office.”
Carlos looked inside. “Nice set-up you have here.” In the center of the room was a large oak desk. On top sat an iMac along with several file folder racks. Lining the walls were shelves with rows upon rows of books. This girl loves to read – he thought.
They continued down the hall to another opening on their left this time. “This here is my pride and joy. As a lady, I do love me a nice soothing bath after a long day of work.”
“Wow! This bathroom is incredible!” Carlos said as he laid eyes upon her sauna. “You definitely know how to cleanse in style.” They both laughed and continued on down to the end of the hallway where the last of the openings stood.
“And this, well, I like to call this my recreational room. Wanna go down and take a look around?” Katherine gestured Carlos inside as he walked up and stuck his head in the doorway. “You have a rec room in the basement? Awesome.”
Carlos descended the stairwell behind Katherine. When they came to the bottom, Katherine walked over to the light switch and flicked it on. As the area was illuminated, Carlos could see a vast open area with very little in the way of games and “recreational” items you’d typically find in a room designated for such things. As a matter of fact, the only “game” he could see was a really nice chessboard on a small glass table between two leather seats. At the far end was a surgical table situated next to a wooden cabinet which looked like an old armoire. “I’m sorry to say, Kathy, but your rec room is a bit drab.”
Carlos was about to turn around when he felt a slight prick in his elbow. Before he could interpret what had just happened, his extremities suddenly felt weak. The walls seemed to expand and contract while his auditory and visual perceptions echoed out of focus, like he was in a half-awake-half-alert state of consciousness. Carlos fell to the floor, unable to move any portion of his body. Standing over him was Katherine. In her hand was a needle.
“What you are currently experiencing, my dear man, are the effects of ketamine,” Katherine explained as she casually paced around his body, “nothing lethal, of course. But as a colleague of mine once said, ‘you can rape a bitch with this stuff.’ He indeed was quite correct in his assertion if my intentions were in fact to sexually take advantage of your cute little self.” Katherine stopped at the top of Carlos’ head and bent forward, bringing her closer into view. A smile – one which could stop anyone; man or woman, in their tracks – was now stretched across her face. “Unfortunately for you, my desires are of a very different nature.”
Katherine straightened up and continued to pace.
“I know what you are thinking, Carlos – ‘But I thought we had a connection?’ We did, and if it makes this a little bit less horrifying, we still do. I find you quite attractive, both physically and intellectually. You would’ve made an amazing mate for some lucky girl. And if I weren’t – what is the correct medical term? – oh yes, psychotic, I’d count my blessings to have found a gent such as yourself so attracted to me. Although, psychotic is such an overused word in our English vernacular, a lazy term almost. I don’t see myself as psychotic. I wouldn’t even know where to begin describing myself with said term anymore than you would in attempting to describe yourself to a cow, chicken, or a fish you were about to kill. Being seen as a predator by your prey is all relative, wouldn’t you think?”
Katherine was now over at the armoire, perusing through surgical instruments. She pulled out a pair of blue latex gloves from one of the drawers and slipped them on.
“‘But Kathy, it’s not the same,’ is how you’d like to respond to this argument, am I right? ‘I eat meat for nourishment, for survival – to LIVE.’ To which I would respond – ‘no you do not.’ You consume the flesh of other, less defendable creatures because you enjoy it. There are other ways in which to supply your body with sustenance. Eating meat is merely a preference, not a necessity. I understand this. I’m not judging you. I’m only trying to convey my motivations. This here, what you are about to endure, is a result of my preference, my life’s enjoyment and desire – as terrifying as that may sound to you. In your world you are the predator. In mine, you are nothing more than cattle. But I like you, really I do. Consider yourself the filet mignon of tonight’s dining experience.”
As Carlos lay helpless on the floor, unable to move a muscle or scream for help, a horrifying realization came into focus. All night he had been petrified by the thought of running into the serial killer – a male killer his misguided presumptions had led him to believe. He had taken every conceivable precaution, and yet, without ever knowing it, he was in his company the entire time. Katherine walked over and knelt beside him. In one hand was an anesthesia mask and in the other was a scalpel. A terrifying sight matched only by the grin on her face, a grin which silently conveyed one final thought to Carlos: the harbinger of his demise was upon him.