"Wh-What do you want dude?" the man yelled frantically, crawling desperately to get away.
The "dude" in question had come out of absolutely fucking nowhere and started beating the living shit out of him. He bet he had some fractured ribs. And his nose. Yeah. Definitely broken. Blood was flowing freely from it and every once and a while he would get a taste of the revolting metallic liquid as it seeped its way into his mouth.
The guy laughed. He laughed. And it wasn't one of those sardonic chuckles that people were so fond of using when they found absolutely no humor in their situation. It was an honest to goodness laugh. Sounded like the guy was enjoying himself. Like there was nothing he enjoyed more than beating somebody to a bloody pulp. And as he looked into those eyes that sparkled with absolute mirth he knew he was a fucking dead man.
The guy lunged.
"Shit," he cried scrambling across the mulch. Pieces of the chipped wood stuck in his hands as he fumbled to get distance between himself and his attacker. He remembered how he would make a fuss whenever he got a splinter playing here as a kid. But the little slivers of wood seemed trivial when put against his other injuries.
It hurt so fucking much.
Breathing had never been so painful.
He had thought the evening perfect to spend time in the park. He loved to walk along the path that wove around the perimeter of the recreational area watching as friends and families took advantage of the play area and grills.
When they left as the sun started setting he stayed, content to rest in the semi-wet grass and watch the stars. It was a beautiful night for stargazing new moon and clear as he had ever seen. And there was hardly any light pollution. Every once in a while he saw a satellite whizzing by. It was during the stargazing that his world was eclipsed by the figure of the man who was making him regret his decision to watch the stars.
Really regret it.
The man kicked him in the side. Hard.
He dimly wondered if this is what it felt like to be hit by a train. Probably not. Those people were lucky enough to die when they were struck. A quick pain and then oblivion. This guy had been playing with him slowly for the last hour.
He was tired of it. So very tired. He took a shallow breath that ended with a hiss as his ribs protested the effort and decided he would beg. Beg the guy to leave him alone.
"I'll give you all of my money. Please! Please! Anything to make it stop," his voice broke at the end and was overtaken by hiccupping sobs.
The desperate attempt sparked nothing but annoyance on the hooded countenance of his attacker.
"Zabien, Zabien,' the man drawled almost lazily, "I don't want your money," he said this as if it were common knowledge he had to explain carefully to an unusually slow-witted individual. An individual that should have known exactly why he was there.
The guy reached into his leather coat and Zabien feared the worst. He was obviously going for some kind of weapon. Zabien's heart hammered in his chest. This was it. The guy was really going to kill him. Finding what he was looking for the man pulled out his weapon.
Zabien almost cried in relief. It was a water bottle. Nothing bad ever came from a water bottle. He briefly wondered if he was on some kind of fucked up new reality show that was a cross between Scare Tactics and Dog Eat Dog.
He watched as the man unscrewed the lid of the bottle and half expected the guy to take a drink. But no. The bottle was lobbed right at the kid.
Zabien sputtered. The bottle had smacked him right in the head. He spit some of the foul tasting liquid out of his mouth.
Water didn't taste like that.
He had never had anything that tasted like that. He sniffed, taking as big a breath as he could muster with his damaged ribs. And identified the liquid.
Zabien looked up with fear in his eyes. There was no way this was a reality show. It was too fucked up even for them. His breath was coming in sharp gasps. He was panicking somewhere between hyperventilating, crying and wanting to faint. His ribs hurt, his head was pounding and all he smelled was the putrid aroma of gasoline.
Why had he come here alone? His girlfriend had offered halfheartedly to come to the park with him. But being the nice boyfriend he was, he said she could stay back, like he knew she wanted to, and watch the latest episode of American Idol. He told her he'd be fine. She should enjoy her show. Now he was frantically trying to find anyone around him at this ridiculous hour to help him. Why had he told Abby he'd be fine?
He was so not fine it wasn't even funny.
The guy knew his name.
He wished, not for the first time, that he could just make out the guy's face, but the hood on his sweatshirt was over his head, successfully blocking his features in the abundant shadows of a night with no moon. Every once in a while he would catch a glimpse of those eyes, but nothing more. "Do I know you?" he asked slowly, really dreading the answer he might get. The voice hadn't sounded familiar, but he had never been good at recognizing voices.
There was that disturbingly gleeful laugh again, "No, but I know you."
Why would this psycho know him? Zabien whimpered. He didn't want to be one of those stories parents told their children to scare them. Didn't want to be the reason people wouldn't let their kids out after dark saying, "Remember that Fitzgerald boy?"
There was something in the guy's left hand. A flickering. Glowing.
He was still advancing on Zabien. And it felt like for every move Zabien made away from the guy he made two strides toward Zabien. In short he was gaining in him.
As he got closer Zabien realized the glowing light was one of those automatic lighters.
Fuck was he in trouble.
Fire + gasoline= a very bad end to Zabien's day.
There was something in the guy's other hand. A can.
Zabien had been so transfixed on the flame that he missed the man pull it out of his jacket. The guy was shaking it. Zabien heard the clanking of the small metal ball as it bounced around inside the can.
A spray paint can.
The guy held the torch at arm's length and positioned the aerosol can directly behind it. As he realized what was about to happen, Zabien's bladder failed and he made a frantic attempt to distance himself from the guy.
But the man's index finger was quicker. All he did was push down on the little white nozzle of the can. A jet of fire burst from the homemade flamethrower.
He looked at the body. Right now there was only a crispy corpse on the ground. He needed to make it a work of art. It was the least he could do for the kid. After all, he had been such a perfect little model. He took the can of paint and quickly sprayed a time; 3:09 on the charred mess of bones and melted flesh then threw the paint can down next to the burnt remains and checked his watch. 3:08am, right on schedule. Better make that phone call.
The bored female voice on the line recited the usual lines, "911, please state your name, location and a brief description of the emergency."
The man smiled knowing this phone call would definitely make her night more interesting. He decided he'd disguise his voice adopting a strange accent and talking deeper than was typical of him. It worked for Batman so he reckoned it was good enough for him. "It's 3:09am. Tell your boys to get to the park. I've left them a little present alone in the dark."
He had to admit, the rhyme was a nice touch. He was a regular Dr. Seuss. He quickly hung up the phone and adjusted his pants. Still got an erection from the smell. He strategically placed the phone near the body so the cops would find it. There was no way it could be traced back to him. No prints were on the device. He was wearing leather gloves, black, he was fond of them but if it came right down to it he'd burn them and get rid of the evidence. He'd probably use them for the next couple of murders and then burn them. Yes he was definitely going to kill again. He liked it and he wanted the people he killed to think that he was the one killing them. The man who had made him decide to start killing. He would make him pay. Ruin this man.
He smiled happily to himself. It was time to get home and take care of his little problem. He just wished it didn't happen every single time he killed something.
He strolled away whistling his own rendition of Habanera.
He looked up at the stars as he walked and quickly located Lyra and Scorpius, his two favorite constellations, in the night sky. A brightly shining meteor went flying by and he smiled. That's right the Perseids were coming up, he might have to watch them. He sighed content. What a great start to the morning. And he knew the rest of his day was going to be just as great.
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