“Nathan! Get away from that psycho! He killed Kirk!” Cassandra screamed and would have leapt forward but Casey grabbed her arm.

The stranger gestured down at Kirk.

“Did you miss what just happened? Because I think it’s fairly obvious that I didn’t. He was literally hoisted on his own petard. I don’t know that deserved a round of applause or anything, but…”

Cassandra cut him off.
“Well, you killed Tommy, you bastard!”

“Funnily enough, that wasn’t me either. And it was barely him, for that matter.” He gestured at Nathan, who paled and took a step back.

“What are you talking about, you psycho?” Cassandra was almost spitting the words, as she looked around the kitchen for something to hit him with. Casey held on to her tight.

“You’re throwing that word around without really knowing if it’s warranted. I mean, have I ever killed anyone that you know of? And as far as your friend Tommy, if indeed that’s the name of the hot blonde who is lying in the shed next to the restaurant, you should probably ask this guy about that.”

Casey and Cassandra threw matching stunned looks at Nathan. Herb’s lips thinned into a line and he nodded slightly, his head dropping.

“Nathan, what is he talking about? What did you have to do with Tommy’s death?”

Nathan stammered a bit.
“Well, I mean, I..she was there and I was..my plan was to do Kirk first, but then she was just there and I had the knife..she just stood up so fast and then it was in her shoulder and…I pulled it out but then she was bleeding and she was so mad. She was going to punch me and then she just kind of was impaled on the knife.”

“You? Killed Tommy? But why? What did she do to deserve that?”

“Nothing! That’s the point. I have this incredible darkness inside me that’s been wanting out for so long, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. We were coming to this place where I could finally encounter someone like me, who understands what it is to have this undeniable need to cause harm. I knew that he would look more fondly on mentoring me if I brought him sacrifices. If I showed him that I have what it takes to take the plunge, so to speak.”

He looked smugly at the stranger, who raised an eyebrow and turned to the small group in the kitchen. Casey was pale, his fingers likely causing a bruise on his sister’s arm. Her face was red, her hands pulled tight into fists which were starting to shake. Herb was still looking at the floor, as though he would like it to open and let him slip through.

“Okay, first of all, I don’t know why you would possibly think I was in the market for an apprentice, because that’s just weird. If your thing is wanting to be a serial killer, I mean, most of the time, it’s a pretty solo endeavour. And second, just because you listened to a Sisters of Mercy album once, doesn’t mean you are consumed by darkness. I’d be surprised if you didn’t still ask your mom to check under the bed when she tucks you in at night. I saw what happened when you accidentally killed that girl. You pretty much immediately threw up.”

“She punched me in the balls!”

“So, you got your ass kicked not just by a girl, but by a dying girl. Dude you are about as edgy as a wet paper towel. Hell, my little brother is tougher than you, and he’s a big wimp. Aren’t you, little brother?”

Herb lifted his head, his eyes narrowing into dagger slits as he met the stranger’s gaze.

Cassandra looked between the two of them, her horror mounting as she recognized the similarity in their faces. The strong jawline, the intelligent green eyes they shared.

“Herb?” her voice cracked on the single syllable.

The apology in his eyes killed what was left of her hope.



Photo by Eyasu Etsub on Unsplash