The Strangeness of Love - Halloween 2018

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Apeiron

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User name: Apeiron

Title: The Strangeness of Love
An autumn wind threw scattered leaves across the pathway, and the warm colors of the fall leaves should have been captivating -- or perhaps thought-provoking at the least. Instead, it was the wind that was far more noticeable than anything. It tugged at branches, tore yet unfallen leaves from their perches, and bit at the flesh with a chill that threatened of things to come.

In the background, as if to set a perfect picture, the sun’s light was dying. Falling below the horizon. Falling like a leaf, only far more slow, and with a promise to be back again tomorrow. In its place was the darkening skies, whose brilliant stars hid behind long, gloomy curtains of white.

The day-to-day sounds were replaced by the familiar nocturnal. What birds that had not fled south already had all gone quiet, and the softer more haunting calls of their cousins replaced them. There were no cicadas, or fireflies, in the waning hours but the ever constant whoosh of vehicles on the nearby interstate replaced them. The headlights pouring in between the trees made for poor stand-ins, but nothing was ever perfect.

Taking in a deep breath of cold autumn air, Alan often wondered at where his life would lead him. There were so many possibilities, and not many of them good, but none of them (or so he had often told himself) would lead him here. To this.

“Did you hear me?” Ten feet away from Alan was a stranger. She had said something to him, but the words had stunned and confused him -- especially given where they were -- and he was still processing everything. The stranger was a young woman, a girl not too much younger than himself. She wore a letterman jacket of black and orange with a stylized “B” on the front. Black and orange bat stockings ran the length of her legs and under and modest skirt of black and white.

When Alan said nothing, the girl took another deep breath, as if grabbing at some sort of fleeting courage, and said, “I love you.”

“Yeah,” he replied, his voice monotone and bored. “I heard you.”

Love.

Alan struggled to identify the concept. Try as he might he just didn’t understand it. Because of that, he had never once believed someone might be able to say those words to him. It always seemed foreign and alien. Like some dish from an exotic land that you couldn’t help but crinkle your nose at.

Still trying to process everything, Alan began looking around as biology took over and he began to feel his body prepare for fight-or-flight.

The girl licked her lips and shifted uncomfortably. She noticed his eyes flickering to the trees and she hurriedly added, “I know it must seem really weird.” She smiled, and it was a nice smile, if somewhat dampened by her own worry, “But I just felt like I had to tell you.”

“Who--” Alan cut himself off and took in a sharp breath. “I’m sorry, who are you?”

Blood rushed to her face. Her body tried to compensate for the nervousness she was feeling. Her eyes avoided his; her shoulders dropped; her arms folded over one another; and she started shifting her weight rhythmically between her feet. “I’m Kathy. I…,” she cleared her throat, “we’ve never actually met.”

Nodding, Alan brought his left hand up to his face and dragged it over his mouth -- a nervous tick of his own -- and said, “But you love me?”

Disbelief, and that probably sent her pulse up. Her heart had to be hammering away at her chest. “Y-yeah, I… I know, but I’ve… I’ve been following you. For… for a while, actually.”

A while? How long was a while? Today, a while, or….

Now he worried.

“Most people would consider that stalking.” He hadn’t meant the statement to come out as flippant, but she took it that way and giggled. Alan looked around again and started feeling the distinct need to be somewhere else. He had to ask, “How long?”

She cleared her voice and took a hesitant step forward. Her shifting weight became a sway, and Alan’s eyes fell to the swishing of her skirt. Why did some people find that attractive? Was it all biological? A primitive, subconscious display of the hips to attract a mate? Whatever the reason, Alan would label it as cute and think about it later. After all, Kathy wasn’t ugly by any reasonable standard. A little rounder in the cheeks, but there was nothing unappealing about that.

“About three weeks.”

Three weeks. No. She said, “about” which could have meant more or less. Alan’s mind began working through his memories, dragging him back as far as he could possibly remember. He couldn’t remember her, though. They didn’t even go to the same school. She was from Besserton, the sister town a few miles away.

They’d had some sort of sport competition around then. But he never went to those, so… when?

As if reading his mind, she said, “I was at a party.” Eyes downcast she took another step forward, and continued to recount, “I left early. They had alcohol and I wasn’t feeling up to drinking. My friends, they… they didn’t want to leave. So I went for a walk. That’s when I saw you.”

Alan nodded his head, slowly, as he remembered. Or, he thought he remembered. He’d been busy with his personal agenda, and the last few weeks were something of a blur. “I’m guessing you saw me somewhere along here?”

“By the bridge, actually.” She chuckled again, and Alan found the sound to be pleasant. But he couldn’t stay around here for much longer. He needed to wrap this up and finish his business. Tomorrow was the end of the weekend, and he still had homework to take care of. “I saw you carrying this dusty old backpack.”

Alan rose a single eyebrow in question, “And that made you want to follow me?”

Kathy looked up at him with dark, dirty brown eyes and her pale-red lips turned up into a mischievous grin. She shook her head, and playfully answered, “No. Watching you drag that tarp into the woods made me want to follow you.”

Alan’s throat tightened, and his heart began to pound away at his ribs.

“At first I thought to myself,” she took another step forward, closing the distance between them, “maybe I should call the police. I mean, you looked awfully suspicious. But something… something made me just follow you.”

“That sounds both illogical, and dangerous. How did you know I wouldn’t just kill you?”

Kathy shrugged, and the dark brown hair that fell around her shoulders bobbed, “You didn’t look the type.”

Unimpressed, Alan spread his arms as if to say, “Really now? That was your justification?”

Kathy’s smile seemed to grow, and she said simply, “Are you?”

Alan swallowed down a lump in his throat as he began to consider his options. He turned his back to Kathy and looked up into the trees where the bodies of several people swung limp in the wind. Where would he put her? She didn’t fit into any of his categories. Too young. Harmless. By his own logic, he couldn’t kill her. Not without breaking his pattern. That would draw attention.

Suddenly, she was at his back, pressing her weight against him so that he could feel her there, and whispered, “I think I’d look good next to the lady in purple.” A pause, and then, “Or maybe by the kid. He looks kind of lonely.”

The woman was Olivia Phils. She had been old, dying anyways of a cancer, but in those tail-end years of her life she had become cruel and jaded. She would shout at and demean others. Beat them with a gaudy jewel-encrusted cane when she didn’t get her way. She had gotten away with it, too, because she came from old money that lived outside of the town. Her problems could just be paid away, and her behavior excusable.

Kathy couldn’t hand next to her.

The child was David Lordes. Had David grown up to be Alan’s age, there was no doubt he would be cruel and selfish. As children, Alan and David rode the bus to school every morning. It was there that David poked fun at Alan, repeatedly called him weird, or stole his things. David was his first. Dead because Alan couldn’t understand how someone could be so mean.

He understood now. It was why he tried to be merciful to his targets.

Targets. Not victims. Targets weren’t human. Their destruction left no impact on the world. Victims could be missed, but no one missed those two. The search for them had ended nearly a month after they had started.

Kathy was too old to hang next to David.

“If I don’t kill you,” Alan began, “what are you going to do?”

Something in Kathy seemed to change, and she came around to face him, her smile nearly splitting her face. She bit her lip and paused, considering. “How about a movie? After that… I thought I might be able to help with your….” She trailed off, turning around to look at the dozens of bodies. When she turned back, she canted her head and said, “Project.”

Project. That did have a nicer sound than agenda. Projects were more physical. Tangible. Agendas were too conceptual. He hadn’t had an agenda for weeks. He’d been working on a project.

Looking up once again, Alan ran his left hand over the smooth skin of his face, thinking. Maybe. It was a risk, but he was interested to see what this “love” of hers was like. Besides, he could use a break.

“Fine. Leave your number on a piece of paper in my backpack and I’ll call you.” That was the logical thing, right? He hoped it was, but he was never good with social situations. Maybe this would be a chance to learn more as well.

Kathy giggled again and shook her head, “Nope. We’re going tonight. Right after I help you take care of this guy.” She leaned down to pick up the sturdy metal shepherd's crook and leaned on it, waiting. “So?”

Alan hesitated yet again, unsure what to think or say. “I get the distinct feeling I can’t say ‘no’ to you right now.”

“I knew the man I fell in love with would be smart.”
 

Mystydjinn

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Understanding of Premise: Probably cute boy meets cute girl and they decide to both be serial killers together.
Rating: 6/10 (I swear to god if I find a fucking skeleton in here)

God dammit! I came here to piss myself, not go "Aww."

Good mechanics, solid fundamentals and shit, and a cute premise that has got me really really happy I'm seeing a therapist already.

God dammit Hare, what part of horror sounded like Spooky Rom-Com to you? I fucking loved this and I want to read more of it but god fucking dammit it's not scary and I have to rate it low.

Reading this made me fell like I had bats and black fucking rainbows in my stomach. Did you write a book with these characters falling in love and ridding the planet of scumbags where the girl double-crosses the guy at the end and turns out to bee OG crazy?

Fuck.

Fuck.

Why did you pull the "Almost love at first sight" chapter out and send that in here as your entry? I wanted to rate this higher.

Fuck you this shit is adorable and I need a cuddle buddy now.

Fuckin' Corpse' Bride, Sally and Jack love story writing ass... I needed it to be scary dammit!
 
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