(The following is one of our occasional ventures into short fiction. We hope you enjoy it.)
The killer backed out of the room into the empty hallway and knelt at the keyhole; peering inside, he examined the end of the old-fashioned key. From the pocket of his windbreaker he took a small pair of what looked like bent needlenose pliers padded with thin strips of cloth. These he inserted. Gripping the key, he turned until he heard the lock click. The pliers went back into the pocket, and were replaced by a flash and small magnifier.
He peered through the lens, tsking at a couple of small scratches he’d left with the tool. From a different pocket he removed a bottle labeled (but not containing) Wite-Out. Using the brush, he carefully and methodically applied a thin coat of translucent lacquer onto the end of the key, dulling the scratches. It would dry long before the body was ever discovered.
Besides, by then they’d be looking for a vampire, not him, he thought, and chuckled to himself.
The writing’s going well for once, thank God. The writer’s block is gone; the words are flowing. Even better, my wife is staying at her sister’s house tonight; they’ll be having a private Hallowe’en party with her niece tomorrow, and maybe some social-distanced Trick-or-Treating.
Are you the sort of person who would, in a heartbeat, drop everything? I think… I think you are not.
And yet, given the right stimulus, the right motivation, in the proper circumstances, you just might. You would go, stopping only for the barest necessities, caught up in the excitement — and before you realized what was happening, before you had a chance to fairly catch your breath, it would be two days later and you’d be looking up at the Pacific Ocean. (more…)
“More wounded from the south wall — burns and punctures.”
It seemed like he’d just gotten comfortable against the cool stone pillar. He sighed heavily, and levered himself up from the floor. “Orderly: Cold water and hot, tallow, soap, clean bandages.”
It had been a long night, and today didn’t look like it was going to get much better. The proper place to be in a siege is on the outside, he’d always thought — or better still, long miles away — but he kept getting caught inside. Ah well; it could be worse; I could be on the walls. He grimaced at the thought, stretched, and glanced through the door into the courtyard.