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As Sweet As The Blood On Your Lips

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India writes to her mother once a week though the letters are never posted. Habit, perhaps. Hereditary, maybe. Who can say? She doesn’t know, but it’s something that she does. It’s a way of marking time.

She writes the letters at night when the darkness seeps in at the windowsills, and the lights along the street glow, keeping her company. The ink stains her fingers, more often than not ending up at the corners of her mouth when she sucks on her fingers without thinking.

*  *  *

She keeps the shoes in a box under the bed, the belt coiled neatly on top.

*  *  *

London, India thinks, was the right choice. Big enough, foreign enough, there is room here. Space to get lost in. Streets full of people who never look twice.

She passes easily for a student, when she wants to. When she doesn’t people merely remember the blond girl as being rather quiet, though one witness later describes her as “quite unsettling”.

*  *  *

India Stoker is eighteen and perfectly capable of looking after herself.

*  *  *

At night she dreams. Of the night in the forest, the boy spasming overhead. Charlie’s face, pale blue and pink in the forest of the night. That’s what stays with her when she thinks of Charlie. Not killing him. Not the blood she left spattered on the wall. Not even the sheriff, but the boy, shaking and then the abrupt limp slump of his body over hers.

It’s a fresh memory every time she touches herself. But nothing is quite as vivid any more.

*  *  *

Alice spots her across the street in Holloway. Like calls to like. She read that somewhere. But while Alice has been in the presence of killers before, she has never felt the pull. Most killers are not interesting. This is new.

She follows the girl. Casual curiosity, nothing more. She’s currently not busy, not doing anything else, so why not?

*  *  *

India notices her when she boards the 91 bus. The woman is about a decade older, auburn hair, and a faint smile playing about her lips as she moves down the aisle after India. She chooses the seat across the aisle from India’s.

They ride in silence, the city streets passing by in a stream. India watches the corners as they turn, and wonders if she says something, what the woman will do. She feels the woman’s gaze on her. It makes her skin crawl, delicious and inviting. She wants to say hello, the word forming silently on her tongue.

Before she can, a man sinks into the seat beside her. He’s wearing a suit, clearly disgruntled at the time the bus is taking. His broad legs crowd into her space, as he settles his arm along the back of the seat. India stiffens when his fingers brush her shoulder, stroking her hair.

The man smiles at her when India glances at him, but she’s not looking at him; she’s meeting the woman’s gaze across the aisle. It’s the first time India’s known another person who knows exactly what she’s thinking, and approves.

I am going to kill him, India thinks.

The woman’s smile widens. Her smile is beautiful like the spiky purple flowers growing in the cemetery back home. The kind India used to pick by the handful. They cut her fingers, slicing the skin open, but she always went back to pick more, sucking the drops from her fingertips.

The man rests his hand other hand on India’s knee.

She glances at the woman.

Your move, the woman mouths.

India gets up at the next stop. The man follows her down the aisle. “Hey, maybe we can,” he leaves the suggestion open.

India says nothing, but she slows her pace as she hears the footsteps behind her. In her purse there’s a knife she bought the first week she arrived in London. It hasn’t been tested yet.

The man slings an arm around her, and India turns at the next alleyway, leading him down it. The man chuckles, moving in closer, his hips nudging into hers. He says something. It’s unimportant. The quiet footsteps behind them continue.

When they are far enough down the alley, India pulls away. The footsteps pause.

“Hey, what’re you,”

The knife slides through suit and shirt, straight into his gut. The man stares down it in surprise, as though she plucked the weapon from thin air. There’s a gurgle in his throat as India twists the knife upward, and he slumps back half against the bricks, half against her. She pulls the knife free, watching blood spread across his clothes.There is a tenderness in India’s hands as she lowers the body to the ground. She wipes the knife on the lapel of his coat and looks up.

“Messy, but nicely done.” Alice tells her.

“Spur of the moment.” India straightens up. The knife is cool against her palm, then she drops it back into her bag.

“I’m Alice by the way.” The woman says.

“India.” India says, and Alice smiles.

“Coming?” Alice asks.

India glances down at the body at her feet. “What about him?”

Alice would be content to leave him there, but it doesn’t hurt to make it a little difficult to find the body. She hefts the dead man upright and nods at the skip a few feet away.

India raises the lid and Alice pushes him in. He drops onto the waiting bin bags with a satisfying thump. India lowers the lid, still gazing at her.

“Next time you should be more careful.” Alice nods up at the camera.

India follows her gaze. “Oh.”

“That one’s out of order. You got lucky.” Alice brushes her hands against her pants. “Well?”

“I’m hungry.” India tells her.

“I know just the thing.”

*  *  *

The restaurant Alice takes India to is small and private, tucked away between a closed theater and a half-empty bookshop. They share a bottle of red wine and lamb fillet. Alice watches India eat, each bite taken with quiet relish. It’s not the first time the young woman has killed. Alice finds this highly attractive.

She leans across the table once, brushing her thumb across India’s lips to catch the drop of sauce lingering there.

India just looks at her, and then licks her lip.

Alice pays, and they go back to her flat.

*  *  *

There is nothing tender in their fucking. India tightens the cord at Alice’s throat, crying out as Alice’s fingers move inside her. Her slim breasts arch upward as her hips roll forward. Alice thrusts, teasing her clit and India comes, floating high above her, fingers pulling tighter and tighter.

Alice gasps and chokes, and is utterly delighted. India slides off her at last, thighs damp. The cord is loosened, leaving a reddened line around Alice’s neck. She rolls over on her stomach, and looks at India, really looks at her as the girl lies still beside her. One arm raised above her head, the other on her stomach, utterly still save for her heartbeat.

Alice presses a kiss to one bare nipple, and then to India's mouth. There's a smudge of ink there. Alice licks at it, curious and hungry. She wants to know about the ink, about the first time India killed, and why she’s here so far from home. That can wait though. India is distant, but there, and Alice can appreciate the silence in her secrets.

India’s eyes remain closed as Alice slinks down between her thighs. There’s a flutter at her throat, and then her lips part as she arches up off the bed. Alice smiles, and lowers her lips once more.

It is a promising start.