Derek’s Lethargy

My latest in the weekly flash fiction contest at The Angry Hourglass. As always, 360 words max in response to the above photo courtesy of Ashwin Rao.

Derek could hear the rope burning across the skin on her neck as he pulled tighter. It reminded him of the sound a cricket made when you crunched it under your heel. Even then, in its death throes, it’d still wiggle its thread-thin legs in vain.

She did, too, as her feet kicked. Maybe it was an involuntary glitch; her system overwhelmed by the pain and fear signals flooding her brain.

He loosened the rope. He didn’t want to go too fast. This was the first time he’d done it. Before, he would kill them from a distance with a pistol or if he did get closer, he’d use a mallet, something he could swing with efficiency and power.

No names remembered, either, just faces. And just in the final moments. Like her’s right now looked clownish with her smeared makeup; her blue mascara blotched on her face in particular. Of the irony in his kill method, Derek was not aware.

With gloved hands, he reared back on the rope fastened around her throat. The thickness of the rope brought him back to his high school gym days when Mr. Daniels kept telling him to climb.

“Climb, Derek; you’re like a goddamn feather, son,” Mr. Daniels would scream.

Derek would climb, his hands burning, his muscles aching and his anger climbing, too, like a vomit of rage and hate.

Summer break, he killed Mr. Daniels in a parking garage where he was fucking some student. Killed her, too, because she was there.

Lost in the memory, Derek hadn’t noticed his latest victim had stopped struggling and breathing. The old anger from the memory, still as raw as it was on that day, led him to rear back harder on the rope.

Then, he noticed and stopped. Third one this month that he killed before he could invest in the enjoyment.

Standing in front of her bathroom vanity now, he saw something in his eyes that sent a shiver coiling down his spine: boredom. He’d caught up with the addiction and was finding the thrill less thrilling with each snuffing of life.

Maybe the next one he’d find the thrill again.

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