With overbearing patience, I lingered outside the double doors of a typical gas station. This particular one became victim to robberies on the occasion a few teenagers decided to intoxicate themselves.
I had no business loitering outside of the small business, but I needed to find someone. A girl. She had long since caught my undivided attention and kept it firmly grasped in the palm of her hand with no intentions of letting go. I knew everything about her. I adored everything about her. The human existence did not deserve such an angelic presence in their tainted midst.
* * *
I had first caught a glimpse of her back when she was in college. The girl was five years my junior, and she screamed innocence. So, I pursued her long into the night, watching her every move, anticipating thoughts. She seemed inevitably perfect in every way. I knew everything about her in three years’ time – her sleeping patterns, allergies, scars, blood type, past relationships. We were meant to be.
The girl was here. I knew it. Darkness was my cover for the time being, and no one looked my way.
No matter how fuel-efficient her car was, she had to replenish its need for gas sometime. I waited in this exact spot every day, waiting for her. I longed to talk with her, though I knew she’d brush me aside like a clingy child. Nonetheless, I slowly approached her car with an unwavering gaze and sure steps.
She stood by her ajar car door, twirling a strand of gorgeous blonde hair around her middle finger. She tapped her foot as she anxiously watched the gas price escalate at an alarming rate. I tapped on her shoulder, and her head met my chest due to her petite size.
“Oh!” she gasped. “You scared me!”
I offered her my best sheepish smile. “Sorry. Ivy, right?”
“Yes … do we know each other?”
I shrugged. “More or less. I’m Salvatore… but you can call me Sal.”
“Hi, Sal … I guess you already know my name.” Ivy smiled. She had the tiniest of gaps between two teeth on her bottom row.
She worriedly checked the gas price. “Did you need something?”
“Just the company of a pretty girl,” I admitted, willing a blush forth.
She chuckled, also blushing. “Are you sure we haven’t met before? I feel like I’ve seen you.”
“You probably have. I frequent this gas station a lot,” I confessed.
She grinned. “Me, too. Yeah, that’s probably it.”
Prior to our fateful meeting, I surveyed our surroundings enough to know that there were no people within miles of this gas station save for several cashiers, a middle aged woman, and a group of older men gathered around liquor bottles.
“So, uh, do you drink?” I questioned.
Ivy grimaced. “No, not since my twenty-first birthday, which was two years ago.”
“Ah, that’s a shame,” I teased, smirking deviously.
Of course, I already knew this. Ivy was a good little girl. She never smoked or drank. She swore on occasion, and when she did, you knew she meant business. She was more than likely still a virgin.
A thump from the gas pump interrupted our conversation. Ivy turned and reached into her purse for money, but I grabbed her hand to halt her.
“Let me get it,” I offered, digging in my jeans for the exact amount.
For months, I accumulated enough money to pay for one tank of gas. I had no job, and my parents cut me off at a young age. Money became tight four years ago, but this simple tank of gas meant more to me than life itself.
She shook her head vigorously. “Oh, no! I got it, don’t worry.”
“It’s no problem, really,” I denied, feeding the machine a ten dollar bill.
“But, we just met,” she argued, smiling slyly. “Why would you pay for a tank of gas for a stranger?”
“You’d be surprised,” I countered. I shoved two more tens into the machine.
As I was reaching for the last ten in my hand, a few coins clattered to the ground.
“Oh, let me get those.” Ivy crouched down and collected the coins.
I crouched down in front of her to pick up the other coins that rolled under her car. She gingerly placed the coins in my hand, blushing. I chuckled.
Ivy flipped her hair over her shoulder. “So, thanks … for paying and all. Um, that was really nice.”
“Don’t mention it.”
She leaned forward a few inches. Then a few more.
I laughed inside my head. This setting was perfect in every aspect, and everything was going well in my favor.
I whipped out the rag shoved deep inside my sweatshirt pocket and clamped it over her mouth. I held her body against mine as she writhed under my touch. I waited for her to inhale the chloroform to shove her limp body inside the car.
I drove away with nothing in the world stopping me.
* * *
Derek and Eileen Chandler drove up to their classy three-story house from their night out. They lived in the wealthiest part of town, but owned the smallest house. The married couple believed in living simply, but still living a good life. Both of their children had grown up and moved out.
When the couple reached the house, they found the door off of its hinges and windows broken. They inspected the damage inside the house and guessed the culprit to be a group of local teenagers looking for a good time. Nothing was stolen as far as they could tell.
“Oh, my heavens, just look at this damage!” Eileen exclaimed to her husband
“It’s not a big deal. We can afford more furniture.” Derek couldn’t care less about the house being in shambles.
Eileen wandered over to the kitchen table to pick up a piece of white paper. The handwriting was nearly perfect – not rushed in the slightest.
“Derek, come look at this,” Eileen called to her husband.
He walked over to the table and eyed the note. “What’s that?”
“I think – I think it’s a ransom note,” Eileen murmured, hand trembling.
She scoffed. “Yeah, they’re really going to put their name on the bottom so it’ll make it easier for us to find them.”
“Don’t get snippy with me,” he mumbled, snatching the note out of her hand.
Hello there Derek and Eileen. If you ever want to see your daughter alive again, do exactly as I say. I ask of you two million dollars – a small price to pay for your daughter’s well being.. I implore you to act quickly however, for every week the money fails to show up, I mail a piece of your darling daughter to you. If you wait long enough, you will get your daughter back. But you’ll have to glue the pieces together again. Your daughter is safe enough for now, but all that might change in one week’s time. There could not be too great a price for your beloved daughter’s life, could there?
Eileen cried on her husband’s shirt. Derek patted her head absentmindedly while he scanned the note for any clues.
“Well … we’re going to need two million dollars,” he grumbled.
* * *
Ivy didn’t regain consciousness for another hour after I brought her to her home for the upcoming weeks. Chains bound her wrists to the wall, rendering her immobile past three feet. Taking in this situation, I was trembling with excitement. Pangs of anxiety battled my emotions.
Ivy moaned from across the room. She sat up and yanked on her wrists. She, of course, screamed.
“What the hell did you do to me?” she shouted, waving her arms in a frenzy.
“Well, I drugged you, kidnapped you, and chained you,” I summed up nicely, walking over and sitting down a taunting three feet away from my victim.
Ivy sat motionless against the wall. “What do you want with me?”
I shrugged. “I just want the company of a pretty girl.”
She growled and lunged for me, stopping short at mere inches away from my face. “Why me?!”
“Because you’re pretty,” I insisted, reaching out to stroke her cheek.
Ivy lurched back to her spot. “Don’t touch me.”
I chuckled. “Well, that’s going to be tough. I mean, you’re going to be chained here for quite a few weeks if everything goes according to plan.”
She narrowed her eyes. “What plan?”
“All in good time, sweetheart,” I assured her.
I took out the knife that had been concealed behind my back. I grinned at her with such pure excitement, she turned away in fury.
“Let’s give your parents something to worry about, huh?” I mused, taking my first steps toward her. She wouldn’t be attacking me anytime soon.
She looked up at me with tearful, glittering eyes. “My – my parents?”
“Yes, the people you spent nineteen years of your life with? You remember them, don’t you?”
Ivy looked shocked, to say the least. “How did you know that?”
“Oh, I know a lot about you, dear.”
I smiled and sat down beside her. She naturally moved three feet away from me. “Let’s see. I know you’re allergic to oranges and ricotta. I know that your blood type is AB positive, but you don’t give blood because you have a deathly fear of needles. And you have Keraunophobia and Entomophobia. You also have a scar under your shoulder blade about two inches wide from an accident involving – “
“How do you know all that?” she shrieked, flattening herself against the wall.
I laughed. “I’ve done my homework.”
“You’re sick … Stay away from me.”
“No,” I crooned, crawling closer to her.
Ivy started screaming and crying and pleading, and whatever else victims of kidnapping do to persuade their attacker to let them free.
I roared with laughter. “You’re not here to be killed … Tortured, perhaps. But not killed. Unless you have a low tolerance for pain.” I chuckled at my own joke.
Her tears rushed to meet the ground in rivulets. “Why – why aren’t you going to kill me?”
“Do you want to be killed?”
“What do you think?” she blubbered, rubbing her eyes.
“I think you’re confused.”
“I think you’re insane,” Ivy spat.
I grinned. “Exactly, I think you’re confused.”
Ivy sat still for a moment. She had a glint in her eye that hinted she was catching some sort of futile plan to kill me, grab the key to her chains, and escape. There’s three things wrong with that plan – they would never happen.
So, I knew it was alright to sit there while she lunged for me and straddled my waist. I let the knife go soaring across the room.
“Enlighten me, Ivy. What’s your plan?”
Her eyes held an amount of fury I didn’t think possible for a girl like her. I wasn’t complaining though. I liked the little change.
“I have to say, I don’t have the key to your chains on me. Sorry,” I admitted. I reached up to brush a strand of hair away from her face.
Ivy screeched and started clawing at my face with her nails. She dug her nails into my cheek and raked them down. I chuckled.
“You fight like a girl.”
She momentarily ceased her ineffectual attack, and I took that as a chance to slam her back against the ground. I crawled half-way on top of her and pinned both her hands down with one of mine. I felt tiny trails of blood on my face – nothing I couldn’t handle.
“I know something else about you.”
She looked at me with unrepressed anger. “What is that?”
“You’re a masochist.”
“No, I am not,” she denied, writhing under my touch.
“You will be when I’m done with you.”
I sat up and allowed Ivy to scoot as far away from me as her chains would allow. I went over to retrieve my knife, and she didn’t move a muscle.
“Now, I think we should give you a hair cut. I think your gorgeous hair would get grimy with your blood too quickly,” I observed, standing over her with the knife.
I bent down to her level. “Are you going to start screaming?”
“Do you want me to?” Ivy queried, tearful.
“Yes, actually, I do want you to.”
“Then, no, I won’t.”
I leaned over her head and grabbed a fistful of her waist-length hair. I sawed off several inches until it brushed her shoulders. I did the same with another fistful, but this time, just for fun, I slashed the back of her neck. I got just the reaction I wanted.
Ivy twisted herself out of my grasp, but I yanked on her hair to throw her down. Blood dripped down onto my hand. She started shrieking wildly, thrashing her head.
“Don’t touch me, you psycho!” she cried, scratching my hands with her bloody nails.
“I thought we’d already been through this?” I scoffed, jerking her head back. “I think we should put this plan into action a little sooner.”
“What plan?!” Ivy demanded.
“I thought we’d been through that, too.”
More blood trickled out of her wound and plopped on my hand. I raised my hand and licked it clean. Sweet inside as on the outside.
I held the knife and grabbed for her left hand. I took out the rubber band and attempted to wrap it tightly around her ring finger. It would have been a whole lot easier had she not been struggling.
“Hey, if you keep struggling, I’ll do a lot more damage,” I scolded her, tightening my grip.
Ivy stopped moving, but her muscles were still tense.
I started severing her ring finger, but the blood soon filled the gap. Of course, Ivy’s screams filled the gap of silence, too. I licked away the blood that seeped out of the slice. When I got to the bone, I took her finger in both my hands and snapped it. She screamed louder than ever. I cut away the skin and muscle on the other side with ease.
“Until later, my dear,” I teased.
She moaned in pain as she watched her own finger ooze crimson in my hand. I took the burgundy stained knife and slashed her stomach as a parting gift.
She gasped and tried to wipe to blood away. Or shove it back inside her, I did not know which.
“Don’t worry – you won’t die from that wound,” I reassured her. “I’ll be back later, so don’t try anything you’ll regret.”
Ivy scoffed. “Like what?”
* * *
I went into the living room of my cabin. For the next weeks, I would be residing deep in the woods. I sat on the couch with a happy grin on my face. I had a little piece of Ivy in my hand. But sadly, I had to give the little piece to her parents to be fair. I was always fair.
I placed a small box full of newspaper on the coffee table. I tied a tiny ribbon around the top of the finger. I started wrapping the finger in a small square of bubble wrap. I set the wrapped finger at the bottom of the box and laid her hair on top. I scrawled a small note and wrapped up the box in festive wrapping paper. I tied a bow around the box, and it was ready to be mailed.
Week one seemed so far away right then.
* * *
Eileen Chandler was devastated at the loss of her daughter. She sat in the living room and cried for hours on end.
“Honey? I just called the police. They’re on their way.” Derek sat down beside his wife.
“My poor little flower … kidnapped!” she wailed.
“It’ll be fine. Didn’t you hear the note? It said she was fine.”
“Kidnappers lie!” Eileen snapped.
They sat in silence until the police arrived. Four police officers were sent down to collect information about the disappearance. Eileen gave them her name and appearance, and the officer, Llewellyn, wrote down everything she said. Eileen gave the officers the note to be analyzed for fingerprints.
“You won’t find anything on it,” she bawled. Derek pulled her into a hug.
“She’ll be alright, okay?”
Eileen just sobbed louder.
“Right, uh, we’ll do all that we can to ensure your daughter’s safe return. We’ll get back to you if we find anything,” Officer Llewellyn promised.
Derek and he shook hands before the four of them departed.
“Why would they take her? She’s never been in trouble a day in her life!” Eileen sobbed. “She’s too young to die.”
“Don’t say that!” Derek reprimanded. “Did you hear them? She”ll be fine.”
“If we get two million dollars in time.”
“We will, Eileen. We’ll have the whole town on our side, and they’re richer than sin,” he assured her.
“I guess so,” she hesitated. “I’m just so scared.”
“We have one week, remember?”
Eileen nodded and buried her face in Derek’s chest. “One week.”
* * *
By one week, Derek and Eileen couldn’t get the word that their daughter had been kidnapped out to the general public. Each day passed by with agonizing slowness. One week was finally up, and they received a box to prove it.
Eileen couldn’t stand to look at it. “What if he got impatient and killed her? Maybe that was just a test! And we failed it!”
Derek gulped and started unwrapping the bright paper. He cut the tape and opened the flaps. He was confused when he saw the hair.
“What the hell is this? A wig?”
Eileen gasped. “No! It’s her hair!”
He wrinkled his nose. “Ew.”
She smacked him on the chest. “It’s our baby’s hair and that’s your response?!”
Eileen rolled her eyes. “You’re such a child. I guess that’s it, though … Only her hair.”
Derek dug through the newspaper until he got to the bottom, making sure he didn’t miss anything.
“Oh, cool. Twenty-five percent of all home appliances at – “
He turned to look at his wife in worry. “What? It’s just an arti – “
“LOOK IN THE BOX!”
Derek stared with wide eyes. “Is that … a finger?”
“OUR DAUGHTER’S FINGER!”
“Calm down, calm down … Shh… It’s okay. This doesn’t mean she’s dead, alright? It’s just a finger,” Derek tried to assure his hysterical wife.
“Just a finger? Fingers are supposed to be attached to a hand on a person, not sitting in some newspaper-filled box in my kitchen!” Eileen screeched.
“Okay, I’m calling the police!”
“Hurry! She could be bleeding to death in a ditch right now! My poor little girl … all alone with a murderer,” Eileen moaned.
“He hasn’t killed anybody,” Derek mumbled.
The police rushed to the house in a matter of minutes. Officer Llewellyn was the first to speak.
“Are you folks okay?”
“No, we are definitely n – “
Derek clamped her mouth shut. “Yes, we’re fine. But we received a particularly gruesome gift in the mail this morning.”
He led the officer to the kitchen where Derek showed him the severed finger.
“A finger, huh? Belonging to Miss Chandler?”
Derek nodded. “Yes. It also came with a note.” He handed Officer Llewellyn the paper.
“’Hello again. I don’t have the money, but I do have part of your daughter. The rest of her is still alive. I hope you haven’t forgotten our deal? Your daughter is waiting,’” he read.
It had begun.
I started working on this story about two years ago for a writing class. This was one of my favourite ideas, but instead of outlining a beginning to a story, the perfect idea for a twist ending came to me. Usually, that’s how I work with my stories. It’s a tad unconventional, but it actually works for me. I love formulating a twist ending and coming up with essential scenes throughout the book to intertwine later. My system for writing is so much different than most writers’, but that’s why every book is different. The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien isn’t written like The Shining by Stephen King, and both of those books don’t have the same writing style as The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I think every writer should have his or her writing style and stick to it. My writing style works very well for me, but I know a lot of writers that have to outline the beginning, the middle, and the end in order otherwise they start to go even crazier. I love jumping right into a story and silencing my inner critic for as long as I can. My critic comes in handy when I go back and mentally picture the scenes happening, trying to recreate what I see with merely words. Imagination is key for creating even the simplest, modern worlds. What are some of your tips for composing a first-rate piece of writing?