by Shelly Trivedi

Every morning at 5:30, he emerges from a deep and noble sleep. He drinks only a glass of water for breakfast then runs the long limbs of each of the ten miles from his apartment to the park. He observes the other runners who cut corners on the sidewalk out of boredom or desperation. By 6:20, the park becomes a crowded place. Seated on a bench amongst strangers, he schedules himself twenty minutes to fantasize about the kill. He sits in stillness to feel the pleasure developing in the hot parts of his body. Only the rarest of people could detect his eyes dancing from within the depths. The pleasure is violent and burning as the twenty minutes come to a close. It begs him to indulge and in the moment he considers to, he pulls the plug and stands up like a soldier. The preparations for the killing are now set in motion. His day carries on like any other person – he pays a few bills, makes small talk with his neighbors, joins his buddies for a drink after work. All the while, plans and measurements are swiftly strung together in thought. Sharp, sinister materials are gathered and then set aside. He understood from a very young age that the results are as good as his patience. The ones who exclusively thrived upon action made accidents out of hurry and fear. Pleasure is to be built up and destroyed in equal measure.

He judges the time as the day sinks into the secret dark. He rarely looks at the clock. He enters into the night. By now, his preparation of the day is put out of the mind. He walks between the light and shadow of street lamps and tall buildings. His footsteps are unkind and deliberate. He comes across a busy street. He dismisses the young people filtering in and out of bars rousing with fanfare. He spots a dark red awning with “Bice” written in gold and in a clean font. This place is expensive, he thinks. He sits down at a table for one and scans his potentials. An old man with a thin mustache, the woman trying to eat her bread roll with her long fake nails, the hostess walking with her chest out, you. Oh yes, you, dear reader. His pale eyebrows are relaxing like a pair of legs on a chaise lounger. He’s watching you. Don’t think looking away is going to help. He’s still watching. And he’s been watching for a long time. He is consecrating you as his next victim with no other reason other than being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Don’t worry, you have some time. He is like thunder. He’ll come upon you by slow surprise. And when he’s there and you’re there and you are both there together, you will yearn for him. He will become attractive to you, there, in the dark because he is also your only chance at safety. In your pleading for a scrap of mercy, he will require you to confront things that you rather not know. In the final moments of baiting his lust, you will fall in love with him. He kills you and the pleasure is all his.