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Mortem Iuxta Est

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Samantha yawned into her fist, hunching her shoulders against the cold morning air. As she walked through the back, grassy alleys between houses, her dog Mickey bounded up ahead, sniffing around. She called a reminder to him, through a yawn, to not go too far. The last thing she needed was a impromptu morning run because he'd decided to run off. Not when she had a full day of sleeping and bugging Peyton to go to a movie with her scheduled. A smile played over her lips at the thought of the exasperated face her best friend would make at her when she video called him.

A deep growling stopped her in her tracks, blinking out of her thoughts. Mickey was standing in front of a gap between a house and someone's shed, hackles raised and ears back. He barked and Sam hurried towards him.

"Hey, quit that! You'll wake someone up!" She hissed, grabbing his collar. He barked again, then went back to growling. Sam looked up to see what squirrel had caught his attention. Her breath caught in her throat when she saw the man standing there. His skin was white and cracked, eyes menacingly wide and a scarred 'smile' stretching from each corner of his mouth. "Oh."

"Oh indeed, girly." He, there was no other way to describe it, growled. She started backing away, dragging Mickey along with her and keeping her wide, terrified eyes on the man. He gave a condescending 'tsk tsk' and took a step out of the shadowed space. She squeaked and tried to pull Mickey back faster, but his hand struck out and grabbed her collar, dragging her back. Mickey went ballistic, barking, and tried to bite the man's leg, but he struck out, kicking Mickey into the side of the next house. Mickey whimpered quietly. "You wanna wake the entire damn neighborhood, jus' 'cause you don't like my face? Fuckin' rude, don't you think?"

"I-I'm sorry, I'm--" Sam started hysterically, only to have the man put a leathery finger to her lips. She snapped her mouth shut, shaking.

"Don't you think I'm beautiful?" The man asked, sugary sweet, smiling in a way that made his scars twist grotesquely. Sam nodded frantically, tears gathering in her eyes. The man's smile grew wider. "Well then. Since you like it so much, how about I give you the look? Then you can be beautiful too."

"No! No, please, please!" She cried out, starting to sob. She continued to do so as the man dragged her into the shadowy space between the house and someone's shed. Her noises were abruptly cut off and replaced by cheerful humming from the man in the white hoodie.

Jeff left the girl in the shed, assured by the copious amounts of dust inside that she wouldn't be found for a while, which would allow him to get a few more kills out of the way before anyone got suspicious. He took her wallet and riffled through it as he slid house to house to reach the woods ringing the neighborhood before people began to wake up. There was a bit of cash, which he pocketed for later. There were also a pocket full of photos, which he skimmed through as he strolled through the shady undergrowth. Most of them were the girl with her family, a mom and little sister, and he put them to the back of the stack in his disinterest. A few of them were of a guy, sometimes with the girl or a group of other guys, sometimes alone. He had black hair, and brown eyes that, in most of the photos, stared at the photographer in disinterest or exasperation. There were a few photos where he had a wry smirk or smug smile on, and one picture in particular that Jeff kept coming back to where he was genuinely laughing and his eyes seemed to sparkle.

He was cute. Jeff could admit that to himself. And if he pocketed a few pictures of this guy, well, it's not like anyone could prove it.

He reached his camouflaged lean-to and tossed the wallet into the bag of similar objects, then stretched out onto the sleeping bag he'd stolen a few weeks ago. He would sleep the day away, then go back out again at night. He kept his knife in his loose grip and faded out of consciousness.