He opened a new blank document and stared at the screen.
He’d tried to get something out for the last couple of weeks, but all he got were blank pages. Page after page. A lot of blank white pages. He could almost see the letters and the words appearing on the screen, but when he slid his hands over the keyboard, all his thoughts suddenly disappeared, as if they were never there. His mind was as blank as the page on the screen and all he could do was stare at it. He watched the screen for a few more minutes, then sighed and went to the kitchen.
He felt like there was something inside of him, one more thing that could be his last book. And, as stupid as it sounded, it was true. He tired to leave the writing for a little bit, he wanted to. He often told himself that, and yet again he opened a blank document, trying to write something new. He tried a lot of genres, a lot of plots; he’d been writing since he was fourteen, for Christ’s sake, and now he was stuck as a truck in the dirt. He glanced at the laptop and turned around. He needed coffee.
His father always said that if you wrote at least one line per day, your days weren’t lived in vain. So Jensen believed it, as in many other things his dad told him. He needed something to look up to in his life, and his dad was that person. He taught Jensen almost everything he knew about writing, composition, characterization, and all this shit that nobody paid attention to these days. He wrote his first story when he was fourteen, and his dad told him that it wasn’t half bad, especially for his age. As it turned out later, it was great, because the plot was more interesting than most of the books that were on the store shelves then. Jensen found inspiration in his dad’s words. He knew he did something right, so he started to write down everything he thought about since then. It was like he was living his perfect little life, right ‘til the very moment the doctors said his dad couldn’t make it.
The thing is, he moved to this little town after his father died. It was a big surprise for everyone – not such a good one obviously – and though he couldn’t get his head around it yet, he wanted to run away as far as he possibly could. He knew he needed to be there for his family, for his mother, for whom it was the hardest. He knew it all, and yet – he ran away, finding a stupid excuse like work, and now he lived in the small town, miles and miles away from his house and family, all alone. And he was satisfied with it. Maybe this loneliness was exactly what he needed. Bottom line he decided for himself was that he would come back after he finished this book. And maybe, he couldn’t start writing it because if he did, he would definitely finish it in no time, like he always did, and then he would have to go back to his family. He would have to face the loss.
He filled the cup with hot water, standing on the cold floor of the kitchen with bare feet. It wasn’t like this town was in the north, but it seemed like he was in the freaking north pole. And it wasn’t even winter yet. He shivered. The nights were the hardest now.
On one hand, it was the only time when he could write. He wrote with the lamp turned on until he practically fell asleep at the keyboard of his old laptop. He would sleep through the day only to wake once to buy some coffee at a café and then go back to his apartment, sleep until the evening, drink another cup of coffee, and start again. Sometimes he thought that there was no blood left in his body, only caffeine. And yet, somehow, he could function like a normal person.
On the other hand, the nights were the loneliest. It was the time when he felt most all of the cold and darkness of the place he was living in, physically and emotionally, and he wondered if he would ever get out of there.
He returned to his room eventually, put the cup of coffee on the table near the computer, and looked through the window.
It was pouring, not like that surprised him – it seemed like there weren’t any sunny days in this town. People always took their umbrellas with them wherever they went, so it was pretty much a thing of a habit. In Texas it was hot and sunny, and here… well, he wasn’t in Texas anymore.
Fumbling with his hoodie, he returned to his computer, sat in the big, comfy chair, and stared at the blank page. It was like a ritual that he repeated day after day since he first opened the laptop in this apartment.
He could imagine how the words would appear on the screen, fast and sure, he could almost feel them; it was his favorite part of the process – when you know exactly what you want to write, when you see it in your mind, and you don’t even think about the right words – they just pop up in your head and all you need to do is write them down.
He turned his head away and closed the laptop. One more day of nothing, one more blank page to add to the collection. He didn’t have a deadline, or a publisher who was constantly asking about new material, and yet he was pissed about nothing.
Nothing was the word that described his whole life recently: he couldn’t do anything, he couldn’t think of anything – he even felt nothing, because it seemed like in this town people were shadows, and time stood still, and he was the only one who noticed it, moving and moving, circling around.
When he read the newspaper the next morning, he didn’t even see what was on the first page, or anything on the other twenty-nine pages. He didn’t sleep well last night, so now, while he waited on his coffee in the little café next to his apartment building, he was trying to busy himself with something. The waitress smiled at him knowingly and gave him a newspaper. He’d lived in this town for almost six months now, and yet he didn’t know anyone farther this café. Daneel, the really nice girl with red hair and a bright smile put his coffee in front of him and smiled sadly.
“It’s awful. My mother constantly calls me and tells me to leave this town as fast as I can and never look back,” she said and shrugged, wiping the table. Daneel had worked in this café longer that Jensen’d lived there, so, apparently she knew what she was talking about.
“Jensen, are you even listening?” she asked, irritated, and pointed with a small finger at the front page of the newspaper, where there was a photograph of a police chief. In big black letters the headline “Mysterious chain of murders doesn’t stop” was written.
“Oh,” said Jensen trying to read the article. There was something about the dead body they found, a blonde girl in her twenties, petite and pretty - or, at least, she was before the murder. When she was found, her face was cut, her mouth ripped open, like some kind of joker-looking thing. The rest Jensen couldn’t read, because Daneel was telling him something.
“I’m afraid to go anywhere but home. Home, café, café, home. And even those ten minutes I’m spending on the walk? I’m terrified, Jensen. Terrified. You know what? I’m young, and I’m pretty. And this killer can easily choose me as his next victim,” she said, not even noticing that she was babbling.
“You’re not blonde,” Jensen pointed out. Because, really – Daneel was pretty and young. And if she wasn’t red-haired, he wouldn’t be pretty surprised if he read about her in the paper the next morning.
“Okay, they told us that all the victims were blonde, so what? What if this freak decided to try some other color? Brunette, or-“
“Red?” Jensen guessed.
“Exactly!” she turned on her heels and went to the kitchen, but not a minute later she was back.
“You sound like you want to be his victim,” Jensen said, drinking his coffee. It was too early for a conversation like that. “Kinky much, huh?”
“Very funny, smartass. A girl like me really shouldn’t live in a place like this.” She sighed and sat in front of Jensen. At this hour the café was almost empty, especially these days, so she had a few minutes of free time.
“So what are you still doing here?” asked Jensen, reading the newspaper. There was something about a new magazine down the street, and Jensen wondered why the hell now someone decided to do it. It was like the whole town was dead – no one wanted to go out without any necessity.
“I don’t know. Somehow it’s more exciting than my old life.” Daneel quirked an eyebrow, looking at Jensen.
“Yeah, because what could possibly be more exciting than living next door to a serial killer?” he laughed bitterly and lowered his eyes, starting to reading again. He turned the page and now was at the sports section. He never really liked sports, but he somehow stopped there.
“What? I like the show Dexter they run on TV. What do you think – maybe our serial killer is trying to punish the evil people?”
“I highly doubt that–” Jensen returned to the front page and searched in the article, “Janise Marlow was a killer, a thief, or anything else.” He smirked.
“At least Dexter was hot.” Daneel shrugged and stood up. “What do you–“
“Don’t even try to ask me what I think this guy looks like,” Jensen warned, sipping at his coffee.
“You’re the first one who suggested it was a guy.” Daneel smiled, rising a thin eyebrow.
“Why, you thought it was a girl? Are you that bitch and you cut your own sex from ear to ear just because you don’t like the color of your hair?” Jensen frowned and kept reading the article.
“See? That’s why you’re still alone, Jensen. You have no imagination,” Daneel pointed out and disappeared into the kitchen.
Maybe she was right after all. He couldn’t imagine a girl as a serial killer, what’s to say about a whole book of imagined things.
Jensen sighed and left the café, hoping that the new day would bring something more interesting than another blank page.
The funny thing about writing is that people usually only remember the beginning and the end. When asked what a book is about, the answer is usually “someone who did something.” So, basically, all you needed to do is think up a character, put him in some situation – for example, make him a serial killer, - and decide how this story will end. The rest, as they say, is history.
Jensen had a character, and he had the situation. All he needed to do was write the middle and decide how this evil son of a bitch would die. Because… he had to die, he was the villain in the story, right?
That was how he found himself, twenty minutes later, staring at the blank page and trying to imagine this guy – he was still convinced that a girl, no matter how pissed off she was, couldn’t do something like that. He could be tall, with broad shoulders and strong legs. Or he could be small and maybe from China, with all the kung-fu knowledge and stuff.
The blank page was still there and the cursor was blinking pleadingly at Jensen an hour later. And he still couldn’t write a word. It was like he was afraid that if he ruined the beginning, he would ruin the whole story, and he really didn’t want that. For some blessed moment, he even forgot about his promise to come back home after he finished; he wanted to write this story down that much.
Maybe he should start tomorrow, right in the morning, and not spend any free time on thinking. He would drink his morning coffee, say a few words to Daneel, and then come right back home and start writing.
Except that the next morning, when he crossed the doorstep of the café, he was met with the terrified look on Daneel’s face and a few cops. Something happened last night – Jensen didn’t have to be a genius to guess that.
Daneel’s face was pale, and her eyes were red from crying. Chris Kane stood next to her, speaking with cops, and when he noticed Jensen, he excused himself and stepped up to him.
“What happened?” Jensen asked, his voice barely a whisper.
“Katie was murdered last night,” Kane said, voice rough. He looked outside from the huge window, as if he was looking for the one who did it. That was Chris – always the protector, always the guy who punished the bastards. Jensen thought, absently, that this story should have someone like Chris written in the plot.
“What?” Jensen asked, still unable to believe in what he heard. Just yesterday they were joking about this stupid TV show and blonde girls, and now Katie was gone.
“Am I speaking Japanese? Katie was murdered, and I’m sure as hell it was the same sick fuck who killed the girl a few days ago.” He swore under his breath and looked at Jensen. “Do you care at all, Jensen? Katie – was – killed,” he said, emphasizing each word. It was then that Jensen realized that he had been pretty distant recently. His friend – he was pretty sure he could call Katie his friend – had been killed and he couldn’t feel anything except for “what?”
“They found her near the river, she was naked and her–“ Chris stopped for a second and breathed, trying to calm down. “Her mouth was sliced almost from ear to ear, as if she was smiling. Can you imagine that?” Jensen really could. He thought he could. Or, maybe he couldn’t.
“How’s Dan?” he asked quietly, nodding in her direction. She was sitting on the stool, hands trembling, and she was silently crying. The cops stood there, writing down something in the protocol, and Jensen swore it was like a cheap detective novel.
“How do you think she is?” Chris asked, irritation coloring his voice. Jensen could see how pissed he was – he was there, but he couldn’t do anything. Though Jensen was pretty sure he could kill that murderer with his bare hands. Kane was small and strong and he wasn’t from China. Absentmindedly, Jensen thought that he could even be the main character in his book – if it wasn’t about a serial killer, of course.
“Are you with me? Ackles!” Chris hissed, returning Jensen to Earth. “I’m gonna stay with her for awhile. I think we really need to be careful. I mean, really,” he said, waiting for the acknowledgment in Jensen’s eyes.
“Yeah, sure,” Jensen said, sighing. He just wanted to write his book; he even had an idea, and of course something would come up. He didn’t want to admit that he was pissed with the serial killer. And more than that, he didn’t want to admit that he was starting to think that it wasn’t a he, but a she, and she really wanted to ruin his plans. He was paranoid, but he couldn’t help it. Daneel looked at him pleadingly and hid her face in her hands, sobbing harder. Chris came to her, putting a hand on her back soothingly. Really, what he could do? Katie was gone, her killer somewhere out there, and the only thing Jensen could think of was that he was glad he wasn’t a girl.
He couldn’t sleep that night either, staring at the ceiling and at the weird shadows from the trees outside the window. He thought how different his life was now, and how he felt exactly the same. When he was at home, he felt like he was trapped. He felt like there wasn’t an escape, and he didn’t even know what he was running from. When his father died, he felt like something caught him, like something was suffocating him, and he couldn’t do anything but run. He was always running, always. It was what he knew how to do best. Even his characters were running always from something. They say that an author should put something of himself in his characters, right? Well then, Jensen knew how to do his job.
He sighed and glanced at the small clock on the nightstand. The green phosphorescent numbers showed 3:24 in the morning. He still couldn’t fall asleep, listening to the rain outside the window, imagining that it was washing away the blood, like red traces running down someone’s body, someone standing near, with the knife in his hand, and just watching, fascinated, with the way blood was disappearing in the dirty rain water in the mud near some small river.
He woke up breathing fast and hard, trying to calm down his nerves and thoughts that were running around his head like wild animals. He almost forgot what it was like, to wake up from nightmares where you can’t even breathe. He put his feet on the cold floor, trying to calm his breathing. It wasn’t dark anymore and the rain had stopped. He was alone in his bedroom, in his house where he couldn’t be afraid of anything. And yet, he was.
That morning he realized how terrified he was by this whole killer thing happening in this town. He felt like he didn’t fit in. He was still a stranger there, still didn’t know a lot of people. And though he’d met a few nice friends, he still could easily let everything go and run away. At least he knew how to do it properly.
He glanced at the closed laptop, in its usual place – Jensen’s desk – and went to the bathroom. He needed a shower, a nice hot shower to wake up, and then he needed to check on Daneel. After the night’s dream he felt like he really should. He just hoped that his plans wouldn’t be interrupted by another murder.
He really wasn’t good at it – he didn’t know what to say in cases like this, and he didn’t know what to do. When his own father died he’d just stood there, silently, watching his mother cry and his brother and sister try to calm her down. He was the only one who didn’t say a word at the funeral or cry a single tear. He had done nothing; he felt nothing, just this huge hole inside his chest that he didn’t know how to fill up. He remembered that day in vivid detail, so exact that he could draw it if he knew how to. It’d be a very grey and dark painting, with a lot of grey, dark-blue and the rain…
Jensen couldn’t remember exactly if it was raining that day.
“Jensen?” Chris interrupted his line of thought when Jensen almost reached that thought in the depths of his mind. “You came,” he said like he didn’t believe it. Not that Jensen was a closed off person, he just didn’t like to hang out all that much.
“Yeah,” he said quietly, looking past Chris’s shoulder.
“Come in,” he invited, opening the door wider. “You want some coffee?”
“No, I’m good,” Jensen said, coming to the small kitchen, where Daneel and Chris were drinking coffee. She looked a little better than she had been yesterday, but she was still too pale and frightened, and it seemed like every noise in the house was scaring her. “Hey,” Jensen said softly, putting one hand on her small shoulder. The girl sighed and looked at him pleadingly, like he had all the answers to the questions everyone was asking.
They spent the rest of the day watching silly Hollywood comedies, trying to relax and forget, at least for a minute, about the day before. It seemed like it happened lesson less than a year ago, so surreal it was. Daneel had been very close to Katie, Jensen might say they were best friends even. And now what? Daneel thought it was her fault because she said “yes” when Katie asked if she should dye her hair blonde?
It was stupid and sad at the same time, and yet Jensen couldn’t explain why he was thinking more and more about this serial killer, what he would and wouldn’t do. It seemed like, for the first time in a very long time, he had everything clear in his head – he knew exactly what he wanted to write, how, and when. If he could, he would run back home right now and start working on his novel. But Daneel was looking at him too pleadingly, and he didn’t want to leave her alone just a little bit sooner than he should. Besides, he still hadn’t figured out how he wanted to name the murder in his book, so for now, he still had time.
Time was the only thing he had, really.
The thing about the town was that it was small. Very, very small. So small that everyone knew everyone, and as a result there were a lot of people at Katie’s funeral. And most of them Jensen didn’t even know. Mrs. Something and Mr. Somewhat, this girl was from the same school as Katie, and this guy was her first boyfriend. He knew all of this because Daneel didn’t let go of his arm for the whole time, gripping it tight. She seemed too small, too young, and everything around her was like a bad fairy tail. A nice girl like Daneel really shouldn’t be in a place like this.
Jensen took her little hand in his, silently asking her how was she doing. Daneel just shrugged, trying to stop the tears falling down her cheeks, and then she turned away, sitting in the first row.
Jensen always thought that every funeral was the same. The right words, the right people. It was almost like a holiday, he thought bitterly – everyone was so kind and nice, and he was sure that the next day they would forget it all and return to their everyday lives. Not that he could blame them – Katie was no one for no one, she was just Daneel’s best friend, a daughter for her parents, maybe a sister to her brother. She was no one even to Jensen – he really didn’t know anything about her except for what Daneel told him. She was nice. And funny. And beautiful. And she always knew what to say or do when Daneel felt sad.
He was kind of envious of that talent, though of course he wouldn’t say it out loud. Especially not that day.
After the funeral, they returned to the café Daneel worked in, and the three of them sat in silence. Chris took off his tie and sighed, closing the door and switching the sign to “closed.” Too much silence for three people, and yet no one knew what to say.
“What you think, will they find him?” asked Daneel, voice so soft and quiet, as if she was afraid that he could hear her.
“Of course they will, babe,” said Chris, sitting right next to her. “It’s just a matter of time.”
“Yeah,” she sighed. Jensen knew what she was thinking, because he was thinking the same. How much time? How many more victims until they find him? How many more dead bodies and smiling faces? “I think I’m gonna go back home, at least for awhile, ‘til they find the guy,” Daneel said out of nowhere, and really, they couldn’t blame her for this.
“Good idea,” Chris said, looking at Jensen. He felt like he wasn’t here, like he was somewhere else, and just watching from the side of this whole conversation. He could never really imagine Daneel being so sad and serious. But then again, he had no imagination at all.
Later that day he looked at the blank page, at the blinking cursor, and he wondered, what this guy looked like. Was he blonde? Was that why he was killing blonde girls? Or was it something else? Was there something wrong with his head, or was he just ‘having fun?’ Apparently, he was wrong in the head if this was his definition of the word ‘fun.’
Jensen sighed and looked through the window. It was dark outside, and he couldn’t help but imagine what the killer was doing now. Was he watching his new victim? Was he sleeping? Eating? Was he watching a football game? Did he even watch football games at all? They could watch one together and Jensen would ask him all these questions. He would tell him about his book, and how he decided to write about the serial killer. He would tell him all that and then, obviously, he would be killed.
Jensen turned to the other side, back to the window, and tried to fall asleep. It was a bad idea – just to think like this, just to have a possibility of talking with this guy. And yet, Jensen thought about it more and more each day. Even when he talked to Chris or Daneel, and when he was ordering pizza from his favorite – and pretty much only – pizzeria in town, he constantly thought about what he would say to the killer when he saw him. Would he say something back? Or would he just kill him? Slice his face from ear to ear, painting a sick prototype of a smile? Jensen didn’t want to admit that he couldn’t stop thinking about those cut smiles, blood dripping from the wounds and the pale faces of the killed girls. If he didn’t tell anyone about it, no one would know, no one would say anything. He could still write his book, finish it, and return back home, leaving this town and this part of his life behind.
It was simple as that. The simplicity was his friend – as he often reminded himself when he wanted to write long sentences that, more times than not, would end up as just a jumble of words.
He went to see Daneel, asked how was she doing, helped her pack her things – not much at all, just a bag of the most important things. Obviously, the girl was so frightened, that she wanted to leave as fast as she could. She was leaving on Tuesday three weeks from then, so she still had to spend a few days here. Jensen thought, bitterly, of what could happen in those days.
He decided to walk home – they lived not very far from each other. It was one of those rare evenings when it wasn’t raining, so it was a nice walk. Nice, calm and quiet.
At least Jensen thought so, he was sure even, right until the moment he heard the scream and noise from the dark alley.
Looking back, he can say that he really shouldn’t have gone there. He should have stayed the egoistic bastard he was and just kept going. But apparently he thought differently that night and he went to check out. The alley was very dark, and he couldn’t see a thing, except for the two people in the far end. It seemed like they were fighting, a guy and a girl, and Jensen thought the obvious – the girl didn’t want to do something or go somewhere and the guy was pretty pissed off about her decision. Usual situation, what couples don’t fight? But something made Jensen stand there and watch silently as the guy gripped the girl’s neck tightly and almost lifted her off of the ground. He said something in her ear then laughed quietly – low and rough – and Jensen felt shivers go down his spine. He stood there and everyone could see him, but he just couldn’t move, couldn’t say anything; he just watched as the guy got a knife from somewhere, its sharp blade shining in the moonlight. The words filled Jensen’s head – he could hear them, see what they’d look like on the computer screen. He could write it all, he just needed to step out of this alive.
The guy said something else to the poor girl as she fought for her life, but she wasn’t nearly strong enough to stop the man. Jensen thought right away that he stepped into something he wouldn’t be able to get away from, because though he didn’t know the killer’s name, he knew exactly who this killer was.
He cut her face – slow and easy, and the girl was screaming, but the scream died in her mouth, because the man moved his hand from her neck to her lips – too big and too strong, this girl didn’t have a chance from the very start, Jensen thought. The man laughed again, deep and quiet, as if he really enjoyed what he was doing, as if he was eating the fear the girl was radiating. Jensen really couldn’t think of a more beautiful murder – his mind was screaming, telling him to run away as fast as he could, but his legs didn’t move an inch. He stood there, watching silently as the girl was killed and he was enjoying the show. As if it wasn’t real, as if they were actors and after the murder there would be end credits, and everyone would be safe and alive, and Jensen could go back home, drink a beer or watch a movie and go to bed, and the next morning he would wake up and everything would be a dream. Another nightmare he’s so used by now.
A scream returned Jensen to reality, and he his breath caught somewhere in his throat when he saw that the man was looking straight into his eyes. He felt like he was caught – only this time it was the last time, he knew he wouldn’t make it out alive after this look. Too bad – he wouldn’t finish his book, wouldn’t have time to tell the world how beautiful murder can be.
The guy smirked, then turned away, almost disappearing in the night’s darkness, and he could still feel Jensen’s fear. He knew he wouldn’t run away, the bastard felt it with his skin. Jensen just hoped…he didn’t know what he hoped for. He hoped when the guy cut the girl’s left check, and he still hoped when he did the same with the right one. Putting a smile on her face, the man ended her by stabbing her in the chest with the knife, licking her lips, testing the blood of the new victim, the newest number on the list of trophies. And Jensen stood there, unable to breathe, and the only thing he could think of – this guy was much taller than he imagined. This guy was frighteningly tall, and Jensen, being not small himself, felt too little, too weak, too dead for being alive.
The guy eased the grip on the girl’s mouth – Jensen realized only now, that he was holding her jaw with just two fingers, and he physically felt a shiver run down his back – and she slipped onto the wet ground, breathing her last breath with the knife in her chest and a smile on her face.
Jensen wanted to slip down the ground like this girl – he didn’t think there was any power left in his knees to hold him straight. He just wanted it to be over. If this guy wanted to kill him – fine, he was okay with it, just make it fast.
Jensen raised his eyes to see the guy pulling the knife out of the girl’s chest. He stood – wide shoulders and long legs, strong hands and a power that Jensen could feel standing feet away. He shivered, watching the guy licking the blood from the knife and smiling, looking at Jensen, knowing how scared he was, how fucking terrified. And he knew that Jensen couldn’t see him, not his face; not only because of the darkness in the alley, but also because of the blood pounding in his head and the blur that covered his eyes.
And then, just like that, he was gone.
Like it was some kind of a nightmare and Jensen couldn’t wake up, couldn’t move in his own nightmare. Like it was nothing, like he would open his eyes and everything would be just a dream, a very, very bad dream. A sick one, too, because Jensen knew he enjoyed what he saw – how the guy licked the blood from the girl’s face, how easily he cut her cheeks, and suddenly it was too hot for such a cold evening and his jeans were too tight. Jensen wished it was just a dream, wished it was him being sick and horny and a freak. But the dead body was still there, smiling from ear to ear, as if this murder was the happiest thing in her life. Jensen wondered if it really was. He tried to put himself in her shoes – living in this town, living this life, trying to run away from everything he thought his life was. Really, this murder would be the happiest thing in his human career. Feeling the fear so terrifying, feeling the power so big, feeling something at all. Being alive, at least for a little while, before the end of everything. Jensen knew he could write about it, he knew which words to use, which sentences. But he was terrified to even think about it, as if this killer would know and come back to kill him. He would make him smile, just like he made this girl, right before he plunged the blade into her chest, straight into her heart.
Jensen couldn’t think of a more romantic thing to say. That was what he thought it was – beautiful and romantic. And he, for a second, thought that something was wrong with him, because he was thinking this way, but hey – you don’t witness murders like this everyday, do you? You don’t walk away without a scratch, either.
After that, Jensen didn’t think about the murderer’s name. He went home that night and wrote ten pages of words and sentences, of blood and passion, of blades and skin, and that night he dreamt about the girl who smiled from ear to ear and blood dripping from her lips.
The next morning he went to the café, greeted Daneel, and sat at his usual place in the corner. Somehow it felt safer there, and it wasn’t about the psychotic serial killer that was walking free in this town. Daneel smiled at him sadly, and returned to the kitchen. Jensen absentmindedly wondered if he was the same when his father died. He didn’t remember much after that, not like he remembered going out somewhere with his friends or his brother or sister. He remembered how he stared at the blank page of a new Word document, sitting in the dark room, listening to the silence that somehow seemed to be much louder than any screams in the world. This is the only thing that didn’t change after he moved out – at least, not until yesterday.
“How is it?” Daneel asked, sitting next to him. She tried to smile, but it was even sadder than Jensen could imagine, and he thought, what would Daneel look like if that guy made her smile?
“Sorry?” he asked, because he didn’t pay enough attention to the words.
“I asked, how you were doing.” Daneel shrugged, looking at the newspaper Jensen was holding in his hands. “I still can’t believe,” she sighed.
Jensen looked at the same page Daneel was talking about and read about the new murder. He didn’t have to read the whole article to know who was killed – when and where. Even though he decided not to tell anyone about his little walk yesterday, he knew better.
“Awful,” he said shortly, and sipped at his coffee. Hot liquid burned his throat but he didn’t pay attention to that either.
“I’m counting the minutes ‘til I leave this town behind me,” the girl said bitterly, gripping the napkin in her hands. Jensen thought he should be hurt – it sounded like Daneel wanted to leave not only this town, but everyone in it, too. “Sorry, I didn’t mean-“
“No, you know what? You’re right,” Jensen said, surprised by his own words. “I guess you’re the only sane person here. It’s not safe in this town.” He’d thought about leaving, too, he’d thought about it a lot, especially in the beginning. But the thought disappeared even faster than it came to his mind after what happened the previous evening.
“You look like you’re not here.” She smiled sadly. “Is everything alright?” Daneel asked, and Jensen snorted, as if she had said the stupidest thing in the world. The thing was, everything considering, he was. Girls being killed in the town he lived? He was fine with it. Daneel, who wanted to leave everything behind her as fast as she could? He was fine with that, too. That look the murderer sent him right after he killed another girl? That was the only thing he wasn’t completely fine with.
“Just thinking,” Jensen told her, putting away the newspaper. And it was almost true. He was thinking. A lot. But he couldn’t tell her what he was thinking about. Not like she would believe him. “Look, I’m gonna go back home, try to work on the book. Call me if you need anything?” he said, standing up, and Daneel looked at him almost amusedly. “What?” Jensen asked, already looking at himself to see if something was wrong with his clothes.
“People are getting killed here, and you still think about your book?” she raised her brow, the gesture Jensen always liked the most about this girl – somehow it made her face even more interesting, though how exactly Jensen couldn’t tell. “You’re weird, Ackles,” she said, gathering the plates, “but thanks anyway.” She smiled again, softly and warmly, and Jensen knew she really meant it.
He just nodded and headed to the door where he collided with someone. Jensen raised his eyes to look at the person, and mumbled something like ‘sorry’ when the tall guy looked straight down at him – and Jensen felt choked for words.
“It’s ok man, but watch where you’re going next time.” He grinned, an amazingly bright and soft smile appearing on his face, and Jensen followed him with his eyes. The tall guy sat on the stool and ordered something for breakfast, making Daneel giggle and smile, and Jensen wondered, suddenly, who would take her place when she left.
He forgot about his thoughts, nonetheless, when he came home to find a bouquet of flowers on his doorstep. Dark-red roses in dark-red paper, no note included.
Jensen locked the door behind him, checking it twice before he went to the kitchen. He put the flowers in the vase, trying not to cut himself on the thorns, and took it with him into the bedroom, looking at it, caressing the buds, and feeling the softness of the flowers under his fingertips. He put the vase on his desk, right next to his laptop, and removed one flower from the bunch. He smelled it, inhaling the sweet scent of his favorite flower, and let his mind drift away, lost in his thoughts.
Before he knew it, he was back at the alley, watching the guy slice the blade across the girl’s skin, her pretty face, making her blonde hair red with blood. He licked her bottom lip, and then bit it, hard, and the girl tried to scream but couldn’t find her voice. The tall guy laughed suddenly, and then she shivered, begging him, whispering something only she and her murderer could hear. He said something back, and that was it – he stabbed her, right in the chest, licking his own lips and watching the blood pour over his hands.
Jensen felt something prick his finger, and he started out of the memory. He put the finger into his mouth, trying to stop the blood.
He didn’t notice how much time had passed, but it already was one something in the afternoon by the clock. Jensen sighed and turned on his laptop. He really needed to get some work done that day, he could feel it.
That night he couldn’t fall asleep, and it had become sort of a new habit, to look at the ceiling long before he passed out of exhaustion, so he had a lot of time to think. Mostly, he thought about the only thing that was worrying him: why the killer let him go. Not that he was ungrateful for that, but if he was a killer, he would run and catch anyone who saw him and kill them the very next second.
Jensen shivered at the thought that this tall and strong guy would grip him tight and pin him to the wall, pressing hard and making all possibilities of moving go to zero in a single second. He would laugh and lick his lips, and he would be right there, less than a few inches away, focused on Jensen, no one else around. And then he would cut his face, making him smile, and then, maybe after Jensen begged him, he would end him with a stab to the gut from a knife.
Jensen woke with a gasp in his own bed, and he took a few minutes to calm his rapidly racing heart while he tried to understand why he was so achingly hard that he couldn’t remember the last time he’d been so turned on in his whole life.
He looked at the paper spread all over his bed and picked up the closest piece. He read what he had written yesterday, just before he had passed out, while he had been thinking about this guy, and he was surprised to see that his own thoughts turned into words addressed to the killer as if he was writing a letter to him.
He thought about his life while he was brushing his teeth. His life, somewhere between his father’s funeral and the murder he witnessed, had become an obsession, a hunt. But Jensen couldn’t figure out what he was hunting. Not yet.