by Jim Farrar (1975)

It’s raining outside, dammit. I don’t like it, never have. Especially thunderstorms, like tonight. Too noisy. Anyway, I suppose I’ll have to make do. I’ll first sit here in my easy chair by the fire, turn on my reading lamp and read tonight’s paper.

Cute, real cute. Some lunatic’s roaming the city with an axe or something, cutting people to ribbons. The guy’s got to be a psycho, not a drop of blood in any of the victims. Probably one of those cult killings, you know when they get all hyped up on drugs and think they’re Dracula or something. Police are baffled it says. That figures. A traffic violation can throw them off. No motive for killing? There never is. Hell, it’s just another violent crime.

That’s funny, the paper says that there was no sign of a struggle in any of the previous murders. Previous? Boy, that’s encouraging. No struggle? Jesus. No sign of theft? God, there’s no motive, just like they said. Sounds like some sort of an execution. No, it couldn’t be. What would two old ladies and a blind man do to offend anybody? You know, I think that . . . wait a minute! A noise. No, I’m just edgy tonight. I’m starting to act like a little boy.

The theater page, “In Cold Blood” playing. There’s that damned noise again. Sounds like breathing. Now it’s all silent, except for the clock. It keeps ticking just as if nothing is happening. Breathing again. It’s the furnace. Yes, that’s it, the furnace. There it is, that sound. S-s-s-h, s-s-s-h. No, it’s not the furnace. It’s off.

Whatever it is, it’s something. I’d better go and check. Funny, I don’t remember leaving my hunting knife out here, and I know I washed it last time is used it. Then why . . . again! Now it’s behind me, in my bedroom. In and out, in and out, so steady, no interruption. Dammit. I just left my bedroom. What in the Sam Hill is going on here?! There! It’s moving! The breathing is picking up.

What! This is my shirt. It’s got blood on it. I don’t remember . . . Closer! It’s getting closer. That sound, over and over! Oh God, oh Christ! Help! Where are you?! I can’t see anyth . . . NO! Who, what, what are you? My knife. I’ll get my knife! Where is it! I left it . . . you’ve got it. Now what? The door, I’ll run for . . .

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