The Catch

And when I felt his hands tightening around my throat, I was not frightened at all, thrilled by the ecstasy of his kiss, telling myself only to “breathe out.” Breathe. Out.

There’s always a price to pay. No matter if you think you’re on the upside or down in the dumps. If it’s not pay time, it just was or is about to be.

White Mountain, Alaska. The head count reached a raging 197 in 2013. 197 souls in this town. 196. You’d think it would’ve been child’s play to catch him. It wasn’t, obviously. I’m still here.

He leaves his victims in live situations. Sitting at a bar. Leaning on a tree. Behind the wheel of a car. Standing in a shed. Or like the last one: suspended from a bridge. The only bridge in town. Ok, so that was not a live situation, but it seemed very much so when I arrived at the scene. The victim was male, in his mid-forties, dark hair. The coroners laid him down on the pavement and freed him of the noose that kept him attached to the bridge. He was strangled, in a way, like all the others before him. Death by asphyxia. Suspended from a bridge. From everything.

I did my job, then lit a cigarette and walked away. The forensics snapped their photos of the deceased behind me. The sun was slowly setting and my fingers were freezing as they forced more nicotine toward my brain.

At one point, I was sure we had had him. I was put on the case because I was the least experienced, and the most attractive. I was supposed to be “the catch”. The last catch that would kill him. It may be vice versa in the end.

A secluded town like this one is a coward place to kill. Because you have all the time in the world. Nothing but peaceful companions minding their own business, not a care in the world, except to pay the bills, to feed the family, and get home safely. These days, the latter seems to be the greatest challenge. But we had a plan.

A killer always has a pattern. As much as he tries to divert his moves, trace his own steps and mix it up. Man is a creature of habit. We just had to find his Kryptonite. Remember that song by 3 Doors Down? I can’t help but think of it every time I hear the word. “If I go crazy, then will you still call me Superman?”

Tonight would be the night. We would catch him when he least expected it. I would play the victim. In the abandoned shed across the snowy meadow. The lights of the barn long dead. I can hear the snow beneath my steps crunch. An owl is hooting in the distance. The shed smells of humid, old wood. The planks barely hold it together. I turn on my flashlight and open the trap door. Cement stairs lead my way below zero. The stench is becoming stronger. How on earth did we think that this is a good idea? I hate my job.

I’m a professional. I’ve been trained for this. Yet I cannot stop my heart from racing. The chains hanging from the ceiling remind me of a curing chamber at a butchery. Perhaps this is exactly what it was. I can feel the souls in here. They scream at me to leave immediately, but we have to stop him. Before he erases this entire town… and beyond.

“I didn’t think you’d be back” – I forgot how attracted I was to him. His deep voice resonated behind me. It sounded familiar, but I could never place it. In all these years that we’ve met.

“Me neither”, I replied after a pause. I had to catch him, nay kill him. But I knew I would never again find anyone like him. I was the exception to the rule for him. The slightest chance of him finally taking away my last breath was exciting, invigorating, tempting. My job prompted me to act otherwise.

He forcefully pulled me closer, and lay one hand around my waist. The other around my throat. Do I trust him? Or kill him? Either way, now is the time to act. With my grey pencil skirt, low high heels and button up black blouse, I felt more vulnerable than ever. Yet, I could’ve worn a snow suit and my heart would melt in his presence.

That’s when I felt his hands tightening around my throat. I was not frightened at all, thrilled by the ecstasy of his kiss, telling myself only to “breathe out.” Breathe. Out.

 

Day 1 #30DayWritingChallenge

Prompt: “Select a book at random in the room. Find a novel or short story, copy down the last sentence and use this line as the first line of your new story”

 

 

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