2:52 A.M. All it took was one sound. One unexpected sound, and I could feel the air shift around me. So quick, but so important. One unexplained sound and she awoke, surely frightened. Her body now lies rigid and alert, but only seconds before curved naturally in blissful sleep. That’s fine. Mistakes happen. Sounds happen. I wait, calm, sure that soon her eyes will tire and her body will sag, comforted by the warm air and the trusted silence. I wait, 3:05 A.M, but still, for over ten minutes, her demeanor does not change. Smart girl. She trusts her instincts. Most would pacify themselves with hopeful reassurances until their frightened bodies fold organically back into their mattresses, but not her. She heard me, and she knows it too. For one instant in the confusing in-between where reality and fantasy converge she heard me, and the voice now telling her to relax her ever-beating heart is not loud enough to silence her instinctual need to survive.
3:07 A.M. I breath silently, in no hurry, and completely willing to let her take as much time as she needs. The sun will not be up for hours. I have plenty of time.
3:21 A.M. I long to move, but I stand perfectly silent. When I close my eyes, I can hear her internal debate. One voice pleads with her to look around the room, worried for what may be lurking in the shadows. Another voice, either fear or reason, tells her to go back to sleep and scoffs at the childish fear of monsters waiting in the darkness. I lick my lips and smile. It’s a shame how many times “don’t be stupid” outweighs “just to be safe”…
I want her to look at me. I desire it with an incredible lust I can’t fully explain. Just look behind you I tell her silently. So few ever do. Searching for me, looking at me means facing fear itself. That’s what I want. That’s what I love. It makes the game so much better. After all, no one wants to hunt a dead deer. Those who have the courage to peer into the darkness, to confront man’s fear of the unknown live to fight another day, and I, I resign to the shadows, euphoric and satisfied. We both win when they’re brave. With vigilant, hungry eyes, I study her, aware of everything; the woosh woosh of her fan, the chill in the air, the faint scent of cinnamon. I watch and wait for a twitch or a hint of movement, something that tells me she is willing to confront me. I hold my breath in anticipation. No matter what she choses I will get something what I want. So I watch and wait for her.
3:36 A.M. I watch her sag, convinced that the sound she heard was the wind, not real, or some other excuse made from her tired mind. I shake my head, almost making a tsk sound, but I don’t.
A hint of a smile flicks across my lips. I’ll enjoyed killing her, but I can’t help but feel a little disappointed too as she has, unknowingly, surrendered to me, and sadly, she will not get another chance, another sound, to save herself. I take a silent step towards the bed as I reached for my knife. Long. Thin. Sharp. Slow. She’ll know soon that she was right, and it was foolish of her not to check on me. Perhaps that will be her final thought.
Katelyn Hogue is a student at Hagerstown Community College.