Herring: Chapter Two – The Voice

Herring.” The Voice had a reprimanding tone as if he knew what she had planned. “Let me tell you something: I am not the one to be toyed with. As if you think I am dumb? I am so offended and I do not take offense well. She is your responsibility!” He paused and laughed to himself. “ Well, she was.”

The line went dead and the phone dropped out of her hand. Her eyes went glassy as hot tears formed over them. Her mouth hung open and her body stiffened and sunk her deeper into the seat. She didn’t realize what she had done or who she had dragged into her mess of a life. Chloe didn’t ask for this; she wanted a little bit of excitement, mystery, and now she was probably lying in some nameless first hole in a place her family would never find, alone.

She had to at least find her, maybe she was still in the house, maybe she was still fighting for her li- Suddenly she felt the wind being knocked out of her and millions of sharp stings across her face. She could feel her body become weightless as if she was suspended in water. She could hear a long horn and two thick yellow lines in the street. Then everything went dark.

“Excuse Me. Ma’am. Excuse Me.” Herring blinked twice and she saw a pale faced woman leaning over her. She looked impatient as if she had been waiting for Herring to wake up for hours.

“Um, yes? Where am I?” She tried to sit up but her body felt like as if she was a shattered glass vase and someone tried to glue her back together. “What happened?”

“You’re dead ma’am.” The lady, which now looked like a nurse pulled back the covered and started removing the bandages around Herring’s legs.

“I’m what?”

“Dead. You are not alive. You are dead. You were speeding down the road and got into a vicious accident and you were dead on arrival. We came, we picked you up, and now you are here because you are dead.”

Every word pinched her sides as she tried to make sense of how she was so alive if she was dead? This didn’t make sense, nothing made sense. She could feel every pain in her body; she could touch the soreness pulsing between her shoulder blades and the stiffness in her neck. She was not dead.

“Yes, you are.” The nurse sighed. “Listen honey, it’s hard to explain and even harder to understand, but it is okay. Your life was over and hopefully you will be more careful in the next one.”

The next one?

“Yes. You didn’t think you would stay here? There are too many people in the world dying and way too many people to be born in order for you to just stay here. You die. We Fix. And then we put you back.”

Nothing made sense as the nurse went behind her bed and started fiddling with these small latches on the side of her bed. Next thing you know she was being whisked down a pink hall, turned right onto a navy blue hall and then pushed through these double doors. Inside was a dome shaped room with a huge pool of clear water. The water was so still it almost looked like it was glass and she felt her covers being pulled back again, but this time by three other nurses along with the main nurse.

“What’s going on?”

“It’s time to go my dear.”

“Wha- go where? There’s nothing but water in here?”

“Exactly, that is ‘The Link’ it brings you back between this place and the world a lot of people depart so soon.” Her tone saddened ever so slightly before she perked up. “On three ladies.” Each of them positioned themselves at the corner of Herring’s bed and lifted her sheets cradling her broken body. Herring was in no position to fight back and she didn’t really know what else to say.

“I’m hurting and I won’t be able to survive on my own. There are people after me.”

The main nurse ignored her pleas while she began to blurt out instructions. “We will release you into the water and you will begin to sink. Do not fight it as you will not be able to move. Your immediate reaction will be to hold your breath and it is your choice to do so, however the water will not harm you or your lungs. It will feel like the same air you breathe; once you pass out from holding your breath or breathe in ‘The Link’ you will wake up in another body, another world, another life I do not have time for questions. Any questions?” The nurse’s smile did not match her sarcastic tone as she lowered Herring into the pool.

“I just got here,” Herring squeaked.

The nurse stared deep into her the eyes as if she was looking at a toddler. “Oh darling, it’s been seventeen weeks.” With that, all of the nurses let go and Herring began to sink and fast. She began to protest when the water rushed into her mouth and immediately turned into air. It felt cold and pure and then it went dark.

“Angela, honey.”

Now is your chance to tell us what happens next! Choose the next chapter or if you have something better, comment below, I might use it in my next chapter!

 

Herring: Chapter One

“Angela Herring.”

A dark-haired woman about 5’5 rose from the beat-up plastic chair that was barely holding its own weight, let alone hers. She had smooth curves with a thick coat of chocolate keeping them into place. She walked into the office and sunk into the leather couch.

“I’m sure you already know why you’re here.” She stared blankly at the mahogany door behind the voice.

“Herring.” She looked up in sadness, she messed up.

“I’m sorry.”

“Oh honey. Sorry does not get my money back. You were an investment. I trusted and believed in you. I thought you were special and you let me down. What do I have now?” ‘The Voice’ clucked his tongue as he paced around the room. Herring just sat in silence. “Kill them.”

Her eyes widened at the thought. She had killed many johns before but this john had a name, a connection, she had loved them. Or maybe they had loved her? Could she? She couldn’t. She could ju-“Okay.”

The words escaped her mouth before her mind could finish her thought. She left the office and descended from the top floor. Her heart was pounding. She could not do this anymore. She had found someone that knew her, everything that she had done, was doing and was willing to do and asked not one question. They had helped her find a life outside of the one that The Voice had created for her.

She slid into her white Jag and waiting till she was least a mile away before she made the phone call. It rang at least twelve times before the line finally opened and a voice smoothed on the other side. “Hello?”

“Chloe?!”

“Herring? Hey. Are you ok-“

“There’s no time just listen. I need you to pack anything and everything you do not want to leave behind and meet me at the airport in one hour. One hour. It’s 2:13 and your ass needs to be at Kipling Airport at 3:13, no later and we have to go.” At this point, Herring was breathless and feeling dizzy. She didn’t know what she was doing. She had only seen this done in movies was was in no mental space to wipe two whole people off the face of the Earth. She couldn’t do this.

“Okay. I love you.” The line went dead before she could explain anything else and she just kept driving. Less than fifteen seconds later, her phone danced in her lap and she answered without hesitation.

“Angela.”

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Scarlet

Selena tried to catch her breath as she untangled her body from her partner. They had been cooped up all weekend in the penthouse of a New Jersey hotel. Both dripping with sweat, they smelled of lust and infidelity. His wife was sick in the hospital and she had been his companion for a few months since his wife had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.

“My daughter’s coming home tomorrow and I have to be there.” She grabbed her satin robe and hurried in the bathroom. She stared in the mirror. Her curls were disheveled and her cheeks were maroon under her chocolate skin. She sulked off her robe and stood in the shower and the scalding water washed over her. She stared at the water turning different hues as it swirled down the drain: her eye shadow, her mascara, her lipstick. She felt her body relax as she was finally alone with her thoughts: her daughter, love life, and her decisions. She turned off the water and grabbed one of the white towels that was lined on the chrome bannister and wrapped it around her body. She opened the door and the steam followed her back into the suite. It was empty.

She looked around and her eyes fell on the night stand by the bed. She walked up to it and grabbed a stuffed envelope: As Always My Love was written in hurried script in the center. She pulled out the contents and counted: 17,000 dollars even. She usually got fifteen for the weekends but he had been overly generous these last few weeks. I mean her daughter was coming back home for holidays. She threw on something loose but socially fitting and called a car.

Noelle stood on the balcony as the wind whipped her hair around with a topped champagne glass in her hand. The city went on for miles and she wanted to stay here all night. A man came up behind her and kissed her lightly on her bare shoulder. “You okay sweetheart?” She had checked out for a moment and wondered if she could just live in this one moment forever. Her body was sore from the moments leading up to this but she felt good. “Yes. I’m fine my love.” She turned to face him. He had smooth skin, a shade or two lighter than hers and deep grey eyes that looked as if a witch was brewing something in them.

“I have to go,” he nuzzled into her neck, kissed her lightly and disappeared. She walked back into the suite to walk him to the door and all that was left was his scent, a rose, and thick white envelope with forever my sweet scribbled across the front. She grabbed it without looking inside and checked out of the hotel.

Selena had arrived at her apartment that night, hurried past the doorman and up to seventeenth floor. The cleaning lady had been there because there was a lingering smell of vanilla and sandalwood; something Mrs. Marney has been doing since her daughter was a small child. She unpacked her gym bag and threw all of her ‘work clothes’ into a hidden hamper in the back of her closet. She changed into a forest green sweat suit and decided that her and her daughter could just order out for Christmas instead of a big dinner. Her phone chimed and she looked down at her lap. It was from Drew. No matter if she hadn’t seen him in a week or in an hour, whenever they would part, he would text her.

I miss you Scar.” It was short for Scarlet. He called her that because of the scarlet-hued birthmark on her left thigh. She quickly texted that she missed him too and slipped into bed to rest up for her daughter the next day.

Noelle was a spitting image of her mother and they both had the same body type. Slender frame, long legs, wild curly hair and an even milk chocolate complexion. She arrived at their apartment around three that afternoon to her mom donning one of her regular silk robes. “How was your flight?” She was finishing her senior year at Morgan State and despite them only living in New Jersey, she daughter loved to fly, and her mother had the means. “It was great mom. I missed you.” Selena embraced her daughter again and trotted over to the phone. “I thought we could order food and just watch movies. I’m a little tired from preparing your room for when you got back.” They ended up ordering Thai food and watching old musicals before both nodding off on the couch.

Later on that same night Noelle’s phone began to vibrate and she turned it over, popped one eye open and read the screen. She made sure to not wake her mother as she slipped into her bedroom and answered the call.

“Lee, I miss you,” a breathy voice came on the line. Her middle name. “I can’t seem to stop thinking about you.” She perked up and tried her hardest to shake the sleep out her voice. “I miss you too my love. I am back in New York and I am looking forward to seeing you.”

He was quiet for a moment and then his voice got low and even. “I was thinking about something. I wanted you to meet someone who is very important to me. I was thinking of setting up a group date. I could take you both out and we could discuss a future with all three of us.”

She let out a low raspy laugh. “Is this your way of asking me for a threesome?”

“Wha-Not at all. I just, I deeply care about the both of you and you said that you would be up for an open relationship.”

“And your wife?”

“She’s dying Lee. It’s over.”

She paused for longer than usual and finally answered. “Okay.” She could feel his body relax over the phone and they set a date for tomorrow night at 9pm.

Selena gifted her daughter a beautiful matching diamond necklace and earring set while Noelle returned the favor with a freshwater pearl choker. They ordered a Tuscan dinner and kinda picked at it while talking about whatever was going on in the world. Despite it being Christmas, they never made a big deal about it. Selena checked the time and it was 6:30 at night.

“Noelle, I know that it was supposed to our weekend, but I got a call. I gotta go honey.” Noelle never really asked much about what her mother did so she had no idea. She knew her family had old money dating back a century and businesses here and there so she figured the less she knew, the easier it was. Plus, her mom never butted into her business either. She made good grades and that’s all that seemed to matter.

“I know mom.” Her mom kissed her forehead and went into her room.

Selena got in the shower and exfoliated her body in full. She was sure to moisturize and leave no parts of her body unperfected. She decided to go for a soft natural look. She had pretty good skin and no wrinkles so she threw on some mascara, lip gloss and highlighted the high points of her cheekbones, nose and under her eyebrows. She put on a merlot colored dress from Balenciaga that sat high on her neck and low on her back. She covered the haltered neckline with the choker that her daughter gave her paired with the pearl earrings Drew gave her and slipped into nude patent pumps. The car arrived at 7:45. She didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to Noelle but she figured she’d just leave some money on the table for emergencies.

Noelle pulled her hair in a high bun to compliment the dramatic asymmetrical neckline of a royal blue cocktail dress. She was running a little behind but she knew that Mr. Wilson loved when she was fashionably late. It kept him on edge. She put on a simple diamond pendant and her crystal chandelier earrings which matched the crystallized shoes Mr. Wilson gifted her a few months ago. She was in a car around 8:30 and headed into the city.

Due alla Volta was one of her and Wilson’s favorite restaurants and the staff was practically family. She checked her coat and was immediately greeted by her favorite host. “Hello Herman.”

“Ms. Junille, always a pleasure. Mr. Wilson and his guest are waiting for you at your usual table.” He led her through a maze of dimly lit settings with stark white linens and an obnoxious amount of glasses and silverware. There she spotted Mr. Wilson in his perfectly tailored black tuxedo with a forest green bowtie and the custom Gucci loafers she gave him as an early Christmas gift. He looked amazing and the woman he was sitting with loo-

Her heart sunk into her toes and vision went blurry until she heard the low growl of Mr. Wilson’s voice. “Lee, this is Scarlet.”

Selene had no expression as if she had never seen Noelle a day in her life. She simply smiled and held out her hand.

“Hello Lee.”

Noelle grabbed her mother’s hand and then sat down. Her body felt like cement and she kept clearing her throat to keep from vomiting.

“Excuse me, can we have a pitcher of water please.” The waiter grabbed the pitcher off a nearby cart and filled their glasses right below the brim. Selene grabbed the glass and looked at her daughter as she sipped the cool liquid and then smiled as she sat the glass back on the table. “Well Drew, you brought us all here for a reason. Is something wrong?”

“No, everything is actually right. As you know, my wife is dying and despite our relationships taking place before she got really bad, she always wanted to see me happy. I am extremely in love with both of you. Lee and I have talked about having an open relationship and Scarlet, I know where your heart lies. I am here to ask for both of your hands in the future.” As he said that, he lifted a hand in the air and a red-haired waitress brought a silver platter with two roses and two little black velvet boxes. He placed a box before each of them.

Selene grabbed her first and flicked it open. Inside lay a huge princess cut diamond ring delicately placed on a rose gold band. She let out a low gasp and slipped the ring on her finger. “It’s beautiful.”

Noelle just stared at the box for a long time before looking up at Mr. Wilson. At this point, hot tears welled in her eyes and she knew that this was over.

“Well?” She could see him growing anxious and a little worried.

“I-well We..We ar-“

“We accept.” Those words did not leave Noelle’s mouth or Mr. Wilson’s. Scarlet looked deep in Noelle’s eyes. “I love you Drew and I could learn to love Lee too. She seems like a woman of grace and beauty.”

“Like mother, Like daughter.” That sentence hung in the air as Drew stole a glance from both women across the table, their expressions: unimaginable.

Borrowed

Carla laid on her back and watched him get dressed looking around for all the items he left scattered on her bedroom floor. This was the fifth man that she had slept with this week and the first and last time she would ever see this specific man again. She never really found peace in loving one man but in making love or at least making like with many men. Never too attached and never there when the sun comes up.

“This was fun; I’m hoping to see you again sometime?” She stared at him and smiled. She hadn’t even remembered his name much less saved his number and she was hoping that she wouldn’t have to explain that this was a one night stand. “See you around love.” She walked him to the door and shut it before he turned to kiss her goodbye. She walked back to her room, climbed into her bed and let the magic happen.

Her body began to sweat and her vision went out of focus. Her body began to shake while her blood was rushing loud in her ears and dripping from her left nostril. She smiled and then she was unconscious. A couple of hours later she woke up in a pool of sweat. She was already undressed so she jumped in the shower and washed off the hours before. Stepping out the shower she wiped the fog off the mirror and stared hard blinking her bright blue eyes and laughed. She looked great. Her skin was flawless and supple and there was a spring in every step. She left her towel at the door of the bathroom as she sauntered toward her bed and grabbed her phone. She opened her news app and searched for the breaking story: “NYC NATIVE’S EYES SUDDENLY BURN FROM HIS SOCKETS ON THE TRAIN HEADING TO QUEENS VILLAGE.”

                  She sighed in unison with her growling stomach and decided to head to the Thai place a few blocks down. While locking her door she heard keys jingling behind her. She looked up and saw Ernie fiddling with his door. “Hey Erns. How goes it?”

“Carla! Hey what’s u-WOAH! I never noticed you had blue eyes.”

She chuckled and batted her eyelashes. “Thanks. They’re new.” She strode off and could feel his eyes burn into her back. He always had a crush and she never had the heart to borrow from him.

That’s what she was: a borrower. Anything she lusted after from a person, whether it was their laugh, their nose, and in this case, their eyes, she could borrow at whim. The only thing is that the ‘donor’ sometimes had to go through an immense amount of physical or emotional pain in order for her to receive and she had a few hardships herself during the process. She learned that she could do this in fifth grade when her mother permed her hair causing it to break and eventually fall out. There was another girl, Jezzel, who had a curly jet black fro. She wanted it so bad and even cried for her mom to stop perming her hair, despite it being “unruly.”

One night she fell asleep and started to sweat. Her nose started to bleed and she ran a high fever. Her mother had rushed her to the hospital where they kept her overnight. The next day she woke up with tiny luscious curls poking through her scalp while her damaged hair lay in a halo around her pillow. The doctors ran a multitude of tests but they found nothing wrong. They told her mom the ‘hair thing’ was nothing less of a miracle and to just keep a watchful eye for anything else out of the ordinary. The next day, Jezzel wore a black skullcap and under it, her bald head shone brighter than a light bulb.

Over the years, the episodes started to get worse and her borrowing started to get more efficient. Instead of it taking weeks for the borrowed quality to fully bloom, it turned into days, then a few hours, then sometimes minutes. She practiced on teachers, friends, strangers on the subway, anybody she could really get her focus on. Eventually she got really good and learned that she could borrow not only from people from things. She was waiting in line at the ATM and a man in front of her had dropped his receipt and hurried out the door before she could let him know. With the abandoned receipt in hand she saw that he had over 50,000 dollars in his savings and she was barely making rent in her studio apartment. She took out her measly twenty dollars and sulked home.

That night, at this point she could tell when her episodes were coming and because she did not borrow anything today, she was confused on why she was feeling this way. She grew scared and called the ambulance despite not having insurance and knowing she couldn’t afford it. They brought her in as her body started convulsing and kept her overnight for observation. All the tests came back normal but the bill she got in the mail a few weeks later made her feel sick all over again. 4,712 dollars. She could not afford that. She had gotten paid that day but it was nowhere near half of that amount. She checked her bank account and nearly dropped her phone on the floor. Available balance: 52,135.41.There must’ve been some mistake; a miskey by a teller or something but this wasn’t her money.

The guy at the bank. These words echoed upon discovery of this saving grace. This was the answer to all her problems. No more making ends meet, skipping breakfast or canceling outings with friends. She only borrowed from what she considered wealthy people who wouldn’t notice too much was missing and eventually they would get it back. Hopefully. She actually wasn’t too sure and it wasn’t like she could ask anybody. She started reading newspapers, flyers, and company websites, anything with a dollar amount that she could funnel into a bank account. She borrowed in small increments and immediately transferred the money to a savings account so she wouldn’t draw suspicion.

It had been about two years since she first figured out that she could borrow like this and had upgraded her lifestyle tremendously since then. She moved to the Upper East Side in a two floor brownstone and was dating a business mogul’s youngest son. She kept tons of banking and money magazines by her bedside table and kept a close watch on the news to see if she was raising any suspicions. She even picked up an odd job and because she wasn’t too close with her parents, she would lie and say they were rich and wanderlusts.

Later on that day her fiancé kissed her forehead and left for some company meeting. She snuggled in bed due to being “off from work” today and began to doze off. There was a knock at the door. The cleaning lady wasn’t supposed to be by and she wasn’t expecting any company. “One minute.”

She threw on her robe and headed to the door. Looking in the peephole was a familiar but surprising face. “Erns, it’s a surprise seeing you here.”

“Carla.” He had this serious look on his face as he passed her and she immediately regretted opening the door. “I have been waiting you to come back Carla. You never came back.”

He was right. “I’m engaged now Erns, I had to move on.”

“You never called. You never wrote. I was waiting for you all this time Carla. Do you not care about me?” He began to move closer and she began to step away. “Do you not feel the same way I feel?” She began to panic.

“What do you mean?” He backed her into a wall and she could smell the sweat and restlessness steaming off him.

“I love you.” He stared directly into her eyes as he said the last words she would ever hear: “I want you.” In that moment she felt her chest constrict and she grabbed at her necklace. Her body started sweating and her heart started racing. She could not be borrowing in this moment; she had been lounging around all day. She could not be having a heart attack. She looked up and seen Ernie staring directly into her eyes, unfazed. “I wanted your heart.”

In that moment, his nose started bleeding and his fingers began to tremble. The pain in her chest got worse and she realized: she was being borrowed. He had wanted her heart so he was taking it and that was one thing that would not grow back.

 

4712

 

The bus is three minutes late today, which I accounted for in my schedule. It’s pretty nice outside only about 60 degrees but I have to wear my leather gloves, my extremities get rather cold pretty fast. I get on the bus and Dorothy is driving today. She’s so sweet and that’s why the bus is late. She always stops for people who don’t really care about time even when she’s already pulled off from the stop. Dorothy is so sweet. The sweetest lady I have met since Laurie and Jalen died at least. I board the bus and see a man rocking back and forth muttering with an absent expression and tattered leash in his right hand connected to the harness of a black service dog. The black lab looks as withered as its owner and I simply smile and step around them.

As the bus fills, I see people maneuver around the same man and his dog as if he has an invisible force field around him and stare. Just stare. I wonder if they would be more inviting to this poor man if they realized that they were also in the presence of a serial killer. An Asian girl with doe eyes and short stringy hair sits next to me infatuated with whatever is going on in her phone. At this point, we are speeding past each stop and my office is nearby. I pull the yellow ringer and the bus slows near the corner of Harriet Street. I get off and head towards the back of the Pharmacy building and on to a dirt road that leads to my private office. It is 10:23am and my first appointment is at 10:45. I had stayed late to prepare the night before just in case sweet Dorothy would run a little behind.

Clara arrived at the appointment a little early which I also accounted for in my schedule because she is always a little jittery. “Clara, welcome.” She had dark brown hair pulled into a high bun and the gray sweat suit she had on swallowed her tiny frame. Her hands shook as she sipped the tea I had offered before our session began. Today would be the day I would murder her. It was the start of spring and she had started our sessions in late October most likely due to seasonal depression. I have wanted to end her life since December but I couldn’t bear to take her away from her family around the holidays. I had gotten up to check the window for the courier who was going to be dropping by my imported tea that I serve to clients and victims alike.

“So let’s begin, how are you feeling today?”

“Well I have been feeling a bit worse. I can’t focus on any tasks for a long time and I almost forgot Cynthia in the bathtub on Wednesday. I’m just a mess Dr. Grogan.”

I felt so relieved that she was doing worse being that I would be alleviating this stress. I watched as she finished the tea, sat down her cup and slumped back in her chair.

“Dr. Grogan I must say that the tea you provide is always so delicious. I feel so relaxed.” I had drugged her this time, like I do all my victims. Propofol. I do not use Rohypnol because that is used to rape and I do not sexually assault my victims, I only take their life. I am not an animal. I fed her more questions and each answer sounded heavier than the last in her mouth. Her head began to bob as if she was following the beat of a classical song and eventually she was unconscious. I maneuvered her body so that she would sit comfortably while I prepared my tools. In the back of my office was a locked door and beyond that was a surgical like room. Hacksaws, buzz saws, knives, scalpels, you name it. I had everything I needed to humanely kill my patients and allow them to leave this Earth with dignity.

I dragged Clara into the room after locking the front door. No one comes by my office unless they had a specific appointment and any noise that came from the room came from the tools only. I undressed Clara and folded her clothes neatly in a bag to be burned and buried with her remains. She had a gold locket that her mother had given her and I would be sure to get it as a memento for her family somehow. I kissed her forehead and said a prayer for her as I grabbed the scalpel and made intricate cuts along her body. Her blood seemed thin as it dripped onto the table and then the floor. Her skin became more and more ghostly as she got further from life and closer to peace.

I did her makeup too. I was never good with my daughter’s makeup, even though she begged me to do it all the time as a child but I took classes and watched videos to get better and do these women justice. They should rest in not only peace but beauty. I fixed her hair and rested her hands on top of each other like she had always done in our sessions. I then grabbed a machete tool and started viciously hacking away at her body. Pieces of her flying everywhere.

I could feel the kickback of the metal blade cracking on bone and her muscle more and more exposed after every swing. I grew more and more violent as I dug deeper into her flesh and could feel the tug and pull of her body reacting to the swings. My arms grew tired and my mind grew weak. I was done. I stared at her mutilated body but I did not touch her face. I am not an animal.

                  I thoroughly cleaned and bleached every surface of the lab. It took me four long hours. After I was sure the place was spotless, I placed her body in a black heavy duty trash bag. I carried her behind my office and decided that I would place her next to Laurie. Laurie was one of my favorite patients although very sad she had reminded me so much of Clara. I believe they would play nicely in their peace. I lit a match and said another prayer before listening to the cries and moans released from her bones and the sigh of relief when the flames turned to smoldering embers.

“And what number is this one Dr. Grogan?”

“Four thousand, seven hundred and twelve.” I was lying down with eyes still closed on the smooth leather couch in Dr. Sheryl Brenner’s office. She was a psychiatrist like me and my only confidant.

“Mhm and when was this again Dr. Grogan?”

“Wednesday afternoon.” I opened my eyes and stared at the grooves in the ceiling pulling myself back into the present.

“Mhm and you do understand you have not left this facility at all in 23 years?”

That was true. I have been in Malone Psychiatric Facility for 23 years but that was by my own free will. I am tired of killing. I have killed so many people.

“And you do know that you have not harmed anyone other than the neighbor’s dog 24 years ago?”

That was also true. I have been heavily grieving the loss of my dear friend Susan’s dog. I wasn’t looking while backing out of the driveway and he could have been saved. They had forgiven me but I simply could not forgive myself.

“You have not killed anyone and these “victims” that you have named each session are all old coworkers, other patients, or simply part of your imagination. You do understand that?”

That was not true. I am dangerous, I have killed 4,712 women exactly. Because I am free to come and go as I please I have been able to successfully murder these women and I am now ashamed and exhausted.

“Dr. Grogan, I believe you are a great man and I don’t think you are harm to anyone. You just have dangerous thoughts but you have never acted on them. You are free to leave this facility at any time. I have faith in you.”

In that moment I got up and proceeded to walk out the room, down the hallway, and out the facility. I could do this. If Dr. Brenner could believe in me, I shall leave this facility. I felt the sun on my face and blinked violently, it was so bright. I went to shield my eyes and then heard a harsh crack and felt an unbearable pain near my right temple. I felt my arms twist behind my back and a low but serious voice close to my ear.

“Dr. Ethan Grogan, you are charged with the murder of Dr. Sheryl Brenner, Dorothy McCall, among 4,710 other women. You have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be held against you…” The words faded out as I was hoisted in the air and towards a shiny squad car. I smiled.

“I am free officer. I am not an animal.”

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The Woman In The Water

Keon’s eyes felt heavy as she woke up breathing in the crisp air. She remembered closing her window that night because it had been a lot colder than usual. Her mother who was always afraid she would overheat, cracked it in the middle of the night. She felt feverish and uneasy, as if she had eaten something bad the night before. She threw her legs over the side of the bed and listened to the alleys of her joints speak back to her.

                  Suddenly she felt a cold, almost wet hand wrap around her ankle. She felt a scream bubble from her gut but before she could let it out, the air was taken from her lungs by a hand that pulled her under bed. She felt her body go cool and weightless as she looked around and seen she was suspended in water. She frantically looked up but there was no ceiling. It seemed like the water above her went on for miles. She continued to hold her breath. When she looked around, a figure appeared in front of her. It looked human, familiar, but the water had distorted its face.

                  Three booming sounds echoed as if the water had heartbeats and the waves grew dark around her. She splashed and soon the water cleared and a little girl in a living room appeared in front of her. The small child had on a pink fluffy dress with a bow in a hair trying to keep her balance on a red bicycle. A woman leaned over her fixing her hair but her back was turned so Keon couldn’t see.

                  Another round of booming sounds rang out as the water turned dark and cleared revealing a woman whose again back was turned so Keon couldn’t see her face. She was sitting at the table and Keon could see the same little girl standing on the other side of the table. The perspective changed and Keon could now see the woman’s lifeless expression. The solemn woman’s arm rested on the table with a silver revolver placed under her hand. The little girl also emotionless stared at the woman as she brought the gun to her temple and pulled the trigger. The girl flinches as fragments of the woman clung onto the walls around them. The little girl just stared blankly as the body limped onto the ground.

                  Three booming sounds echoed again. The water darkened and cleared, revealing the same little girl but older. She was in a classroom coloring with a brown crayon. One brown rectangle in the middle of the blank page, tracing the same box over and over and over again. A pink and white flower lay by her left arm and her eyes seemed wet from crying. Again a different woman appeared and leaned over with a hopeful smile and seemed to talk to her and compliment on her drawing. She didn’t seem to respond and continued tracing the same brown box.

                  The water grew dark and the human-like figure appeared again. It had grown long dark hair that surrounded its head, and taken more of a feminine form. She reached out her hand as if to stroke Keon’s face but she couldn’t reach. The sounds echoed again. Keon waited for the water to grow dark but an image just appeared with a young girl around the age of thirteen or fourteen. She is sitting at a kitchen table and blood is coming from her arm while she bares the same blank expression as the women Keon had seen in the other images. A man rushes in and grabs the girl and starts shaking her violently as if to wake her. He rushes over to the sink and runs her arm under the water and she starts crying in his arms.

                  Keon then hears four loud thumps, this time louder than before and the water grows and she can’t see. She waited, expecting for the water to clear again and seen another image light up in front of her. The water became still and turned to a color deeper than black as if to swallow her and she could feel if something was around her but she couldn’t see anything. Something moved past her and her stomach dropped as she felt her body sinking deeper into the water. She looked up as if to try to swim to the surface and she came face to face with woman in the water. She wanted to scream for help but she was frozen in fear. She was still sinking deeper when she stopped and the figure grabbed her shoulders and began to maneuver her onto her back. Keon grew anxious as her chest began to burn, she couldn’t breathe now. Her lungs felt like someone had lit a small fire inside them and her extremities began to jerk beyond her control. The figure sunk her hands deeper into her shoulders and she could feel her nails piercing into her skin. The woman moved closer towards her face and revealed a disfigured smile and blank stare. The woman kissed her and immediately whispered “breathe.”

                  Keon’s eyes shot open and she took a huge gulp, the air tasted like acid in her lungs. Once her muscles relaxed she realized she was laying on her back staring a white tiled ceiling as if she was laying in the bathtub. She could hear water rushing in her ears and her body was suspended in scarlet stained water. She felt limp and the lengths of both forearms stung as if they had been split open. Again the room bellowed with three hollow sounds.

                  “Keon please. Open the door.”