Chapter Three: Part One

I’m enjoying this probably more than the rest of you, but here’s Chapter Three of my magnum opus. If you want to catch up, the Prologue is here, here’s Chapter One, and here’s Chapter Two.

Right now, Chapter Three is over 12,000 words long. I need to break it into pieces, but I’m not quite sure how. This part at the beginning is only 2355 words, and it fits together as a piece, but I’m not sure if it’s long enough to sustain itself as an entire chapter.

I’ll post more pieces of the chapter in coming days.

In the meantime, read and enjoy. Even if you don’t enjoy, read and comment.

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At least I can still bleed.

David Chakiris found unlikely comfort in this thought as twilight fell on the ornate rock garden by the swimming pool. He looked over the Bel Air estate that had been torn down and rebuilt to replace the home in which he’d grown up. He’d been reluctant to throw a party in his father’s absence, but his girlfriend seemed to think it was the thing to do, and it may very well have been. All these cheerleaders scurrying around the halls made him feel awkward, and then angry. This is my house, he thought. Why should I feel awkward? Despite his father’s social standing, he had never been able to master the obligatory social graces, and he took some pleasure in the thought that it wasn’t going to matter anymore.

As he listened to the man-made stream trickling over the stones, he relished the warm, red gush pouring down the length of his forearm, even though it all began to seem strangely innocuous.

He was starting to get woozy.

Although he was entirely stationery, the sounds of the party raging in the house behind him grew more distant, and David found himself of two minds as to what he should do next. Do I stop the bleeding, wash up, and go back to playing the good host? Or do I let nature take its course?

He had to do something. He almost wanted to do the right thing. He just wasn’t quite sure what it was.

Twelve people who were alive yesterday were dead today. I did that.

I killed them.

He had seen death before, and it had unsettled him. Unnerved him. But this was the first time the blood was on his hands.

I killed them.

He wasn’t sure if his conscience would ever let him think about anything else. He hadn’t meant to do that, he told himself over and over again. Surely that counts for something. He kept repeating that, mantra-like, for his conscience’s sake, but his conscience was still at war with the fevered rush of pleasure that had enveloped him the moment those cars came plunging off the overpass. Guilt washed over him in waves, cresting and falling, but each wave was stronger than the last, and the perverse delight of killing was still burning too brightly to ever be fully extinguished.

No. This isn’t me, he thought. I never wanted to be a killer.

Anyway, it was all moot, wasn’t it? He had no idea how he’d done it before. So why did he want to do it again? These questions were the impetus behind his decision, made over the course of the evening, to proceed with a simple, elegant solution. Since he had already killed twelve people, all he had to do to end it was kill one more.

That way, everyone’s happy.

This was the perfect place for it, too. He staggered toward the diving board at the far end of the pool, trying not to imagine what someone would think if they found him, bloodless, lying at the bottom, but he knew it would be better that way. He tried not to think of the dreams that would haunt the one to discover him. And anyway, there’d be less mess to clean up.

His mantra was lost. He was definitely on the edge of consciousness now, and it was getting harder and harder to remain standing. He barely noticed the sliding glass door opening behind him, or the slender, heavily decorated brunette who stepped out on to the patio. He caught a glimpse of her out of the corner of his eye, and he thought, vaguely, that she looked very much like his new girlfriend. What would she think if she knew he’d taken the bus today? Pretty girls don’t date bus riders, and, if nothing else, she was such a pretty girl. Pretty stupid, too, but you can’t have everything, which was really the whole problem in a nutshell, now wasn’t it?

That might have been his final thought if she hadn’t opened her mouth.

“David?”

From where she was standing, the shadow prevented her from seeing the stained knife dangling precariously from the end of his non-sliced arm, or the pastiche of blood that smeared the front of his shirt. You’d think, David thought, that she’d at least be able to smell something, some kind of blood musk…

There you are!” she squealed, oblivious. “You are, like, so in trouble. Everyone’s looking for you, and I’m all…”

Her voice trailed off when he collapsed into a heap and dropped the knife, which rang out against the cold stone patio.

“DAVID!” She ran to him and stopped short. “What’s wrong? You’re, like, all bloody!”

“Careful,” David mumbled, “you might soil your miniskirt.” It was a clever line, but David knew the moment was ruined. Why did she have to spoil this? No, it’s not her fault. It’s mine. Can’t I get anything right?

“What are you doing?”

“Doesn’t matter,” David answered. “I’m not doing it anymore.”

His dreams of a fashionable death dashed, he hobbled over to the fountain and plunged his arm into the stream, applying pressure to the wound with his good hand. Blood and water ran together until everything was clear, and within moments, David found himself newly focused and alert. His girlfriend just stood planted, blinking, her mouth hanging wide open.

She’d be prettier, David thought, if she learned to breathe through her nose.

“It’s only a flesh wound,” he quipped with his best Monty Python accent, trying to keep things light but knowing full well she’d miss the reference. He watched her kneel down to examine the discarded weapon. She was shivering with revulsion.

“This is, like, a knife!” she winced, holding the offending instrument by the blade with her thumb and forefinger as if it were the tail of a dead mouse.

“Nope. Not ‘like a knife.’ It’s the real thing, lady,” said David, all the while toweling off his arm with the dry part of his shirt. Then he examined the place where the wound was supposed to be. The bleeding had stopped, and there were only a trace outline of where he’d broken the skin, like a long-healed scar.

He had recovered completely in just a few seconds.

Maybe I can’t bleed after all, he thought.

“I really can’t do anything right,” he muttered.

“Seriously, what are you doing?” she asked again.

“Seriously?” David answered back. “You mean it? You’re serious this time?”

No, that’s not right. Why am I taunting her? What is this? What’s happening to me?

At the same time his head was clearing, the pretty girlfriend was descending into the throes of panic. “Help!” she screamed back to the house. “We need help out here!”

“No, we really don’t,” David said, and instantly, he was down on his knees and right upon her, slapping his hand over her mouth before she could shout again. He was sure he had been too forceful and had hurt her, and was disgusted with himself for not caring. “That’s enough of that,” he hissed with more than a hint of a threat. Ignoring her resistance, he, a little too roughly, raised them both up to their feet.

She wasn’t trying to resist. She was merely whimpering now, weak and afraid. David had no use for her.

Oh, how I hate this, David thought, and then realized that it wasn’t true. No, he didn’t hate this. He hated himself for how much he was enjoying this.

Yet she was absolutely terrified. And so was David. It took everything he had to keep from breaking her neck. He felt his hand start to swell, a fresh but familiar bloodlust engorging him, consuming him. She’s too pretty, David told himself. Much too pretty. I’ll bet her blood is pretty, too.

Enough. Enough! He took in a deep breath and exhaled slowly, and he told her to do the same. And then they breathed together, and he felt his conscience awake, and it incrementally overcame his murderous impulses. He spoke to her in a very slow, deliberate voice, as if he were calming a young child after a tantrum.

“Now you listen to me. Are you listening? Blink twice for yes.”

She blinked twice. Then she sort of nodded.

“Good. Nobody else has to know about this. Right?”

Another two blinks. This was too silly for David, so he loosened his grip just enough to allow her to nod properly.

“In fact, nobody else is ever going to know about this. Because you’re not going to say one word about what you saw out here. Do you understand me?”

Her eyes welled with tears as she nodded, slowly. He nodded along with her.

“That’s right,” he said in his most patronizing tone. “Because we both know how bad it would be if you couldn’t keep that pretty little mouth of yours shut. So as soon as my hand comes off of your mouth, this will never have happened, and we’re both going to go back in there and have a few laughs at our fun little party.”

Her eyes seemed to brighten a bit. Was she trying to smile? David thought. I can salvage this. Maybe this won’t be such a disaster after all.

“Now I’m going to take my hand off of your mouth, and you’re not going to make a sound. Are we clear on this?”

She nodded once more time.

“What’s going on out here?” asked a sharp, female voice from behind them.

David wheeled around to find himself facing a petite blonde who he recognized as one of those other high school cheerleaders. Startled, he dropped his hand from his girlfriend’s mouth, and she took advantage of the moment.

“He’s hurting me, Lisa!” she shrieked. “He’s hurting me!”

“I told you,” David seethed, “ to keep your stupid mouth shut!” He yanked her by the arm and then hurled her to the ground with enough force to make a sickening crunch as she hit the floor.

“Vikki!” Lisa scrambled to her side and stumbled over the bloody knife. She looked down and gasped in horror. “He stabbed you?!” she said to Vikki, picking up the knife with a firm grasp on the handle.

Not so dainty, this one, David thought. Might take a bit more to bring her to tears.

Vikki tried to answer, but she was incoherent. She was cradling what looked like a broken arm, wailing hysterically.

“For your information,” David intoned with an eerie calmness, “Nobody has been stabbed, least of all, her. I know you’re both just high school girls, but I’d appreciate a little perspective.”

Lisa shot him a withering glance before she gently eased Vikki to her feet, cradling her elbows in the palms of her hands. “You need a doctor, honey,” she said soothingly. Vikki nodded, still shaking, trying to get her tears under control.

“Sorry,” David said, taking a series of small but deliberate steps in their direction. No sudden moves, he told himself. This can still be salvaged. “That’s not going to happen. And I’m afraid, Vikki, this means I won’t be able to accompany you to your homecoming dance Saturday night.”

“Keep him away from me!” Vikki howled. Arm and arm with Lisa, she started limping back toward the door.

David wasn’t pleased. “No!” he shouted. “You’re not going anywhere!” They ignored him.

“Hey!” No response.

David was in no mood to be ignored.

Without thinking, he reached over and grabbed one of the huge, molded boulders that made up one of the foundations of the fountain. It seemed perfectly natural to him that his hand and his arm were now about five times their normal size, and with the strength to match. He lobbed the boulder over the girl’s heads and it hit the glass door, shattering the nearby windows and destroying most of the back wall of the house.

Vikki forgot about her dramatic limp and, while still trying to cradle her arm, tore off toward the gate to the front yard. Lisa trailed close behind. David, finished with the warning shots, grabbed another boulder and heaved it directly at them, only to have it blocked by the fully-grown maple tree near the neighbor’s fence. The tree cracked on impact and fell directly on the roof of the house, collapsing the whole northern wing, which was, thankfully, far from the center of the party’s action. Had he thrown in the other direction, who knows how many guests would have been crushed?

Who knows how many more I just killed? I didn’t want to do this. So why do I keep doing it?

David looked at his arm after the throw. The pangs of conscience had begun to deflate it, the same way it had the day before. But this was not over. His heart was still racing. He had tried to kill again, this time in his own father’s house. Soon all the other cheerleaders would be out here. They’d know what he did.

So he’d have to kill them, too. Most of him didn’t want to do that. But there was too much of him that did.

No. There was another option. Not entirely bloodless, but less bloody, surely.

He dashed around the side of the house just in time to see Vikki’s car racing out of sight. He opened the side door to the garage and saw that Dad’s good car was gone, but the big old Buick was still there, and David knew where the extra keys were hidden.

Dad will kill me if I hurt his car, David thought instantly and then almost laughed at the absurdity of it.

Within seconds, David was out on the street, winding his way down Stradella Road toward the south Bel Air entrance. He could see Vikki’s car just up ahead. He imagined what it might look like after it was grabbed, tossed like a shot put, and splattered all over the nearest hillside.

He cursed himself as his hand throbbed with pleasure at the thought of it.

Debate Wrap-Up
Chapter Four

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