When a cup cracks, you can either throw it away or treat it with extra care as to avoid its break.
Muffled sounds of a wooded chair against the cold concrete of abandoned storehouse of a rundown factory some kilometers from the edge of the city filled the silent dusty air. The night had long ago covered the countryside with its darkness and cold embrace, eating every shadow and light apart from an old oil lamp resting on the concrete next to the chair in which a tied up man in his fifties sat. His laments were chocked by a white cloth tied across his mouth and his vison obscured by a duffel bag covering his head. He fought to free his tightly tied up wrists and ankles, terror biting his insides when he heard the click of footsteps growing louder.
He was terrified and confused. He didn’t remember how he ended up in that situation. His last memory was going to sleep in the old cabin hidden in the forest. He thought he was safe there. No one found him for a decade and his persecutors died not long ago. He wondered who captured him and how. He feared for his life and his mind ran miles per second in search for a way to escape. He didn’t know what was about to happen to him, but the devilish light laugh his ears caught made his inside twist in fear.
It took him a moment to focus on the face in front of his eyes when the bag was removed from his face. The light of the lamp casting a black shadow on the beautiful features of the female staring in his eyes with an amused expression. A wide grin adorned her pink lips. The glint in her eyes was terrifying.
He couldn’t stop the fear showing on his wrinkled face, nor the trembling of his body. He saw many things in his life and he could recognize that glint anywhere. He then realized he wouldn’t make it alive from there and he dropped all hope, though the fear didn’t fade.
His name was Kenny. He was the cause. He hoped he would die a quick death.
“I’m glad to see you’re finally awake. I was starting to think I used too much chloroform and killed you.” Your voice was calm and serene, almost innocent and laced with slight amusement. “I didn’t want to start while you were still sleeping. I wanted for you to enjoy the fun.” You smiled sweetly at him. “Do you know who I am?” You tilted your head to the side.
The man shook his head ‘no’.
“Well of course you don’t. After all, you disappeared ten years ago leaving no trace behind. My name is ____.” You untied the cloth over his mouth. “What’s yours?”
You laughed. “That’s a pretty colorful name. However…” You dug your heel between his legs making him scream in pain. “I would like you stop joking around. Your name.”
You tilted your head to the side.
A relieved sigh left your lips and you put your hand on your chest. “Thanks God. It would have been pretty embarrassing if I got the wrong person.”
“Who send you?” The man asked bitterly.
“Can’t you guess?” You asked sweetly.
“Honestly, no. I know Darius and his lackeys died six months ago under mysterious circumstances, so he can’t be the one to send you. Unless you were his bitch or something and came for the money. In which case you’ll be disappointed to know I don’t have a cent.”
“Right. You had a debt with Darius. Did you wonder who killed him?”
Kenny’s eyes widened with realization. “You…”
“About seven months ago, at the crack of dawn of a sunny Tuesday, the police found in an alley a dead woman. She was a beauty horribly mutilated, with various signs of torture and beating all over her body. The police concluded she died from blood loss, slowly and painfully. A horrible death truthfully.” You shook your head. “She didn’t deserve it. She was an honest, sweet and hard working woman. Always kind and with a smile for everyone. Do you know why she was killed?”
He shook his head, his face a painting of horror and despair. He understood why he was there.
“The ones to kill her were some of Darius’ lackeys. You see, her brother had a huge debt with Darius, just like you. He couldn’t pay it and he knew Darius would take his life if he couldn’t take the money. Therefore, her brother ran away. Evaporating into thin air a decade ago. Darius wasn’t pleased in the least. After he looked for the man for months, he decided that if the man wouldn’t pay his debt it would be his family to do it. So he went to pay a visit to the man’s sister, our innocent victim. He told her about the debt and that she would have to pay in her brother’s place. She didn’t have all that money, but she managed to set a deal with Darius. She simply wanted time. She would pay all the debt little by little, to the last cent. You might wonder why she accepted to pay in the first place and how come Darius went with such deal. Can you guess?”
The man remained in silence staring at the cement floor.
“As I said before, she was a real beauty. That’s why Darius wanted her. Therefore, in exchange for her body, he gave her time. All the time she need as long as she traded her body. This went on for almost a decade. She bravely endured all the pain and abuse for her son, the reason she accepted to pay the debt in the first place. She knew that if she refused they would kill her teenage son. She paid and paid, until the debt was cleared. Ten years and she could finally bid that kind of life goodbye. Therefore, you may ask: Why was she killed?”
“Without the debt she was a free woman. However, Darius still wanted her. But she didn’t want to hear about him anymore. So he ordered his lackeys to give her a horrible death. The pigs even had their way with her before they cut every single finger and toe, stabbed her flesh and pulled her teeth out. Don’t you think that’s horrible?”
“And there’s more to it. The police didn’t find a single clue on who the culprit might have been. Or so they said. The truth was that they knew everything but hid it under the dirty carpet of “justice”, dropping any investigation for lack of proofs.” You walked around Kenny, brushing your hand on his shoulders before you came to a stop behind him and rested your elbows on his shoulders interlacing your fingers under your chin. “Have you heard of the police officer that went missing a little after the death of the woman?”
This time he nodded slowly, feeling a weight build in his stomach.
“He’s buried under a ton of concrete on the construction site of the new mall in town.” You said matter-of-factly. “After he told me who killed the woman and all the information he had on Darius Zacklay. From then on, it was fairly simple. Seduce some of his underlings and get from them the information needed.” You laughed. “I didn’t even had to torture them for it. All it took was some cheap alcohol, a good dose of cocaine and some sweet talk. They all wanted to brag about the dangerous life they lived. I even came across some of the woman’s tortures. They didn’t saw the break of dawn.” You smirked at the memory. “Where was I again?”
“Oh, right!” You pushed yourself off him and circled to his front. “In a month I had put the pieces of the woman’s background together and traced Darius down. Killing him was easier than I expected. A well paid prostitute and a drugged drink. Did you know the old man had a collection of swords, axes and other medieval weapons? I felt stupid to go there with a kitchen knife. And I have to admit that beheading someone is more difficult than it seems.” You let out a huff of air, your shoulders dropping in tiredness.
“Honestly, I’m disappointed. You hid so well for a decade and then it took me half a year to track you down. I didn’t expect you to let your guard down and come out yourself because you thought you were safe now. I was shocked to see you at the graveyard last month.” You said in falsetto while mustering a surprised expression.
Kenny felt his mouth dry, his lips parting as his breath hitched. That day he went to apologize to his sister for taking over his mistakes. That day he thought about visiting his nephew, wondering how was he dealing with his mother’s death. He remembered the kid adored his mother.
“How is he?” Kenny’s question was a guilty whisper. In his mind, he was already accepting his fate. He knew he was going to die shortly, probably by a horrible death. He knew he deserved it. However, he still wanted to know about his family, regretting not speaking to Levi that day. He only observed him from afar. It was unsettling to see him wear his usual mask of indifference, the one he always had since adolescence. It was the last expression he saw on Levi’s face the last time he visited him and his mother for Christmas, which was also Levi’s birthday. He didn’t expect him to wear the same expression after his mother’s death. In Kenny’s eyes, Levi seemed fine. But what did he know about his nephew? After all, he abandoned them.
“How’s who?” You asked in innocence.
Kenny grit his teeth. He felt nauseous speaking his name. He didn’t feel he had the right to pronounce that name anymore.
A long silence followed as the atmosphere in the room thickened and the temperature dropped. He could feel his skin freeze under the cold gaze you gave him. He didn’t dare to look up, afraid it would worsen his already dread condition.
“He’s broken.” You said with a smile, even if your voice didn’t hold any happiness. “But don’t worry.” Your tone became sweeter. “I’ll put the pieces back together.” Until it became sinisterly sweet matching the wide grin on your face and the insanity in your eyes.
“I already took care of the filthy pigs that took Kuchel away from him. Now I just have to remove what caused this in the first place, get rid of that ginger-haired bitch and the repair Levi back.” Your voice trembled with amusement and excitement.
Kenny could feel the fear run through his veins. He was ready to die. To be tortured first. But the woman in front of him terrified him for other reasons. He knew she was going to enjoy his screams.
“You’re insane.” He spat through clenched teeth.
You smiled sweetly. “I might be.” Bending down to his eye level, you cupped his cheek with your right hand and tilted your head innocently. “But I love Levi, and I’ll get rid of any filth that hurts him. And you, Kenny, are the reason he is suffering now. It’s all your fault you know?”
Straightening yourself, you ran your hands through your hair, tying it in a tight high bun. You then walked behind him, where there was an old rusted metal wheeled-table. Wearing the rubber elbow-length gloves and the white apron that rested on it, you then pushed the table in front of Kenny, showing him its contents. Pincer, grass shears and kitchen knife.
“Do you know why I told you the story before I did this?” You didn’t wait for a reply. “Because I wanted you to be able to hear clearly every word of it. And to understand why I am proceeding this way instead of simply killing you.” You took the pincer and held it before your eyes, inspecting it carefully. “Since Kuchel was such a kind soul and took care of your shit, it’s only fair to feel on your skin what she felt. Don’t you think so, too?” Kneeling down before him, you used the pincer to grab onto his big toe nail, tugging it a bit to test the grip.
He instinctively flinched and began to squirm in the chair, but it was of no use since you previously stuck the legs of the chair into fresh concrete. The chair didn’t budge and his legs and ankles were tightly tied to the wooden legs. His breath became ragged as he tried not to submit to the fear.
“It’s useless to squirm so much. You’re not going anywhere. Don’t worry though. I’ll skip over the whole rape part.” You looked up at him and smiled another sweet smile. “I’m not into that stuff.”
“If you think Levi will love you for this you’re fucking wrong!” He yelled, tears gathering at the corners of his eyes. “He’ll hate you for what you did. You fucking psycho-murderer!”
“Don’t worry. Levi will love me.” You said before ripping his nail off with a firm pull.
- - -
Heels clicked against the dark asphalt running in the silence of the night. Threes and benches passed by covered in black shadows cast by the lampposts signing the path across the park. The moon was hiding in the darkness of the starless sky as if it knew the events that were about to occur and didn’t want to witness them. The pace of the clicks increased when another pair of footsteps echoed in the cold November air.
The ginger-haired woman’s heartbeat increased in rhythm and she reached into her purse for her keys, clutching them in her right fist, sharp ends stuck between her knuckles. She knew her improvised weapon wasn’t going to take down a possible molester, but it was enough to gain some time to be able to make a run for it and leave the secluded park. She also knew it was a mistake to take the shortcut through the park at night, but she was exhausted from work and all the moving she had done during the past few weeks. Changing workplace, house and city all at once stressed her enormously and all she wanted was to get home as soon as possible and sleep after the overtime she was forced to do because a colleague messed up. It all piled to the previous stress of her ended relationship and wagon of lies she dragged for too long. All those reasons made her careless and impatient, so she ignored the fact that crossing a park she knew was a meeting spot for thugs and drunkards at night was risky. She was regretting it now when she was hearing footsteps follow her.
She didn’t even dare to look behind her. Scared that she would be attacked the moment she saw the face of whoever was behind her. So she kept on walking, the drum of her heart becoming louder and stronger. She failed to notice how close the person behind her was and only realized it when she felt a hand covered in a humid cloth clasp over her mouth. She began to swing her arms in the air, attempting to break free from the stranger’s hold, but her strength was slowly leaving her, substituted by drowsiness, which shaded into sleep few seconds afterwards. Her body went limp and slid towards the ground with a soft sound.
“I’m getting good at this.” You chimed with your hands on your hips and a satisfied smile on your lips as you watched the body at your feet. “Now let’s get you out of here before someone sees us.”
Hoisting up her body on your back, wrapping her arms around your neck and slipping your hands under her knees so it looked like she fell asleep and you were giving her a piggyback ride, you slowly paced to your car. “Fucking God. You’re heavier than you look. Damn cow.”
Sliding her in the backseat and fastening her seatbelt, you then climbed on the driver’s seat and turned the engine to life. You reached to turn on the radio to help the long drive awaiting.
Petra’s eyes fluttered open slowly as she tried to focus on her surrounding while pushing back the throbbing of her head. She didn’t gathered much of the environment, eaten by the darkness of the night. Only that she seemed to be into a forest probably, as she was surrounded by tall trees, and that she was laying against a tree, hands tied to it, sitting on humid grass. However, she noted her wrists were tied behind her back and her ankles together. The memory of what happened to her that night hit her like a ton of bricks. Panic struck her immediately and she began to scream and ask for help only to realize her tongue was cut off. Words failing to leave her mouth as tears began to run down her cheeks.
“Oh, you’re awake.” You chipped happily casting the light of your flashlight on her.
Her head snapped in your direction, shock morphing her fearful expression when she made out your face in the contrast of the light.
“I bet you’re surprised to see me.” You crouched in front of her. She tried to speak, but only incompressible groans left her lips. “Oh, right. I took the liberty to cut your tongue. As fun as hearing you scream might have been, I’m in no mood for hearing your pathetic pleading and lies. You might wonder why you’re here and why I’m doing this to you, since your small brain is probably confused right now. Well, first of all, I want to assure you won’t see the light of tomorrow. Maybe some light at the end of a tunnel if you believe in that afterlife crap.” You waved your hand dismissively. “As for the ‘why’…” You tailed off, grabbing her by the hair and pulling her face closer to yours.
“It’s just the right price for cheating and breaking Levi’s heart when he was most vulnerable.”
Her eyes doubled in size, realization and horror painted in them. She always suspected you had feelings for Levi, but you never did anything to show it. It was just a feeling she got from how well you knew him, how well you could read him, how you would comfort him when he had a shitty day. It was something she always envied. She was jealous of you. She knew Levi for a longer time than you did, she was his girlfriend, the one he loved. Yet he was more relaxed around you, his mother liked you better, his friends liked you better. She got to the point to think even Levi preferred you to her. That train of thoughts made her turn sour and led her towards infidelity, which ended up in a break up after Levi got depressed over his mother’s death. She saw no point in remaining together with him when there was nothing she could do for him and felt no love for him anymore. She made a clean cut, moving in another city, to be with her new lover. But Levi never knew about her cheating, nor did she tell him he found someone else. So how did you know?
“It was just chance really. Seeing you with that married man sucking faces. Of course, I never told Levi, since it would have hurt him knowing you betrayed his trust. However, I had planned to kill you soon after that. But then Kuchel was murdered and I didn’t want to weigh Levi with more sorrow. Had you managed to repair him, maybe I would have forgiven you.” You smiled. “But we all know that’s impossible for a little whore like you. Tell me, how did it feel when your lover refused to divorce his wife and abandon his family to be with you?” You asked in a mocking tone. Obviously, she couldn’t answer. But the way her expression moved from shocked, to hurt and then hate towards you made your hands itch with anticipation.
“I guess karma does exist after all.” You stood up and stretched, looking down at her alerted eyes. “You know, when Levi showed up in my apartment telling me you broke up with him and left, I almost leaped to the moon. The next second, I wanted to crush your stupid face for delivering the last blow to him.”
Without any warning, you kicked her stomach with all your force. Petra gasped in pain as the air left her lungs, taking then deep breaths and crying copiously.
“It’s too late for tears, Petra.” Another kick to her side, followed by many others. Her silent suffering was better than you expected it would be. The pain and terror on her face amusing and exciting you until you couldn’t contain your laughter anymore. Letting it all out, you continued to hit her mercilessly, purposely avoiding her face, as you planned a special treatment for it, until she was so beaten up and weak she could barely move.
“Aaah~ that was fun~” You moaned in delight.
She was exhausted. The beating and her soundless screams drained the energy out of her. She tried to think of a way out of there, but nothing came to her mind. There was no way to break free from her bounds, she couldn’t scream for help and it seemed there wasn’t anyone in miles. She was doomed and scared to the core. She wondered how could she cry so much and how longer would she live. She prayed that if she died, you’d be caught somehow and pay for what you did to her. She never thought her boyfriend’s friend could be such a sick psycho.
In a swift move, you pulled a butterfly knife out you jeans pocket and bend down to cut the rope that bid Petra to the tree. Grabbing her by the hair again, you turned her around to face the truck and tilted her head up so she was looking at you.
“This is your punishment Petra. As I said before, I really wanted to smash your stupid face. And it’s exactly what I’m going to do.” She began to shake her head in fear and croaking pleadings, but you gripped harder on her hair and in one resolute push, you slammed her face against the tree. Her pleadings died on the impact and her nose broke, staining the bark with blood. Pulling her backwards, you took a moment to appreciate your work before you slammed her face on the wood again, and again, and again, your loud giggling covering the thuds her skull made, continuing until your arm got tired.
You exhaled in contempt when she became unrecognizable, her face a bloody mess, her nose bend and broken, her gaze void of emotion or light, the front teeth missing and her lips split.
“What a lovely view.” You chuckled and let go of her hair. When she slid against the bark to the ground, you frowned. “Don’t tell me…” You checked her pulse. “Are you serious? Dead already? Damn, you sure were a weakling. Of course you weren’t suited for Levi. Tch.”
You stretched your muscles and looked around. The darkness of the night still enveloped the small camping area. Smiling to yourself, you left Petra there as you went to grab the necessities to cover your tracks. A happy hum playing on your lips as you skipped towards your car.
- - -
The investigations on the death of the man found tortured and mutilated in an abandoned storehouse near an old factory few kilometers from the city are still going on. Yesterday the F.B.I. stepped in on suspicion it might be the work of a serial killer, as a similar case occurred some months ago and the two victims were related.
The news playing on the TV screen of your living room caught your attention as you were preparing some tea in the kitchen. You craned your neck behind you as you peeked over the kitchen’s island.
However, until today there are no clues of who the killer might be. The investigations are still going on.
You smirked and a shook your head. If they were hoping to find you, they could drop any hope. You weren’t so stupid as to leave any traces behind.
Another tragic event happened two days ago. Apparently, in the fire burning down the camping area just outside the near city, this morning was found a corpse. The police declared that a woman camping there died burned to the bones. They also suspect the fire started from a campfire she settled and didn’t put out when she went to sleep. Unfortunately, they are still unable to identify the victim. Further investigations are taking place.
The name is Petra Ral, cheating bitch.
You thought amused as you poured yourself some tea in a white porcelain cup, a present form Levi. You slowly savored its aroma, smiling at the thought of the man you loved. This was his favorite blend of tea.
A total of a week since you took care of Kenny, and a couple of day since you burned Petra to ashes. You were finally taking a well deserved break, relaxing in your apartment after a long day of work. The ding of the doorbell echoed in the room before you had the chance to sit down on the couch. You placed the cup on the coffee table and went to the door.
Peeking through the spy hole, your heart skipped a beat before you quickly unlocked the door and swung it open.
“Hey. Can I come in?”
You let him in and closed the door behind him. His visit was unexpected, but it made you the happier person alive. As always during the last six months, he looked exhausted, dark circles prominent under his beautiful silver eyes. You knew he could barely sleep lately; nightmares hunted him. He was blaming himself for Kuchel’s death and he dreamt of her mutilated body every time he closed his eyes. He was broken. His armor cracked and falling in pieces to the ground, exposing his core. You could see them clearly, all the cracks, all the pieces falling, despite how well he masked his emotions. Those who didn’t understand and turned their back at him, didn’t deserve his affection.
“I just made some tea. Do you want any? It’s your favorite.” You spoke kindly as he sat on your couch, resting his elbows on his knees.
“Thank you.” He said.
You hurried to get the beverage for him and make it back to the living room. His eyes were focused on the evening news, scanning the headlines still talking about a possible serial killer wandering around. Cursing under your breath, you grabbed the remote and turned the TV off, placing the cup on the coffee table and glancing at him. You were feeling guilty for letting him see that.
“Sorry.” You murmured, looking down at your feet.
Levi remained silent as he took the cup and sipped on the tea. A sad small smile forming on his lips before he spoke. “The F.B.I. dropped for a visit yesterday.” He said flatly, voice devoid of any emotion and eyes drowning in the dark amber liquid. “They said my uncle was killed in a similar way as my mother. I thought Kenny died long ago.” He took another sip as you silently listened to him. “The news talk about a serial killer, and they said I might be the next victim if that were the case. They wanted to put me under a protection program.”
You clenched your fists and teeth.
“I refused. If there’s someone hunting down my family let him come at me. I can avenge my mother this way.”
You bit the inside of your cheek at the harshness in his tone, but remained silent.
“However, there’s a detective that thinks there’s a possibility for the two murders to be separated. Apparently, Kenny had a debt with the drug lord that died some months ago. That’s why he left ten years ago. My mother had to pay that debt in his place. They think Darius Zacklay killed my mother after she finished paying all the debt, for unknown reasons. Therefore, Kenny and Darius’ deaths are some sort of revenge someone took out on them. Kenny’s should be for my mother’s death. Darius’… they don’t know. Probably the same.” He took another gulp of tea. “They also had suspecions I killed Kenny.”
“I was with Hanji and Erwin when he died. One hundred kilometers away for a business trip.”
You sighed in relief.
“Anyway” he placed the empty cup on the coffee table. “I came here to tell you that you should probably keep your distance from me. If they are right about the serial killer, you could be in danger too. And I don’t want to lose anyone anymore. So-”
You covered the one-step distance from him and wrapped your hands around his shoulders, resting your knee on the edge of the couch. “I’m not going anywhere.” You said against the hair on the top of his head as you tightened the hug. “I don’t care about any serial killer bullshit. I’m not abandoning you.”
Levi’s eyes widened for a moment, before he buried his face in your shirt and, slowly, wrapped his arms around your waist, pulling you closer. You remained still for some moments, allowing him to break down, the last pieces falling. You could feel your shirt getting wet against your skin. You slid your hands to his hair, running your fingers through the coal locks in a calming gesture.
Ten minutes passed, and he pulled away. You looked down at him. His head was bowed down, a hand passing over his eyes to remove any remaining tears. You observed him silently and lovingly as he evened his breathing.
When he looked up at you, his face was more relaxed, lips curved in a faint smile. His right hand cupped your cheek and he ran his thumb over your cheekbone, looking directly in your eyes.
“____, thank you.” He whispered.
The sound of your name leaving his lips was intoxicating. The happiness you felt as he looked at you with gratitude and kindness was indescribable. You couldn’t stop yourself. You leaned down and closed the distance between your lips with a soft peck, pouring your adoration for him in that small touch.
When you pulled back, his expression of surprise made your heart twist and your face burn with a crimson color.
“S-Sorry. I-I didn’t me-mean-”
His lips pressing against yours cut you off. His kiss was rougher, needier, and passionate as he bit on your bottom lip, making you open your mouth for him to enter. He pulled you down and then pushed you on the couch, hovering over you and cupping your face with his hands.
“____.” There was a small blush on his cheeks as he spoke. “Promise me you won’t ever leave me.” His whisper sounded desperate. The desperation of a broken man. The desperation of a man who lost too much and wasn't willing to give up any more.
You cupped his face in return and smiled sweetly at him. “I promise. I’ll never leave you, Levi. I’ll always be by your side.”
He kissed you again, smiling when he looked back at you. “I love you, ____.” He said before another peck on your lips, holding on you as if his life depended on it. He didn't want to let go. He wanted to grasp tightly on the last piece of happiness he had left, hold on it tightly and never let it go. He covered your neck in sweet kisses, nuzzling in the crook of your neck and inhaling your scent and memorizing how happiness smelled and felt like under his lips.
“Levi will love me.”
Just as you predicted, you became his happiness; you became his.
You smirked to yourself. “I love you too, Levi.”
When a cup cracks, you break it and then rebuild it anew. Put the pieces back together and repair the damage done.