At the Mercy of Criminals

Do you ever hear the news and suddenly wish you didn’t have to live on this planet? Me too! I remember one time, when I was in about fourth grade, I saw this news story about a local rockstar’s entire family being murdered in their basement; maybe, subconsciously, this is where the idea for this prompt came to me. (Only mine is more sci-fi [?] I suppose – I guess that’s up to you to decide.) Anyways, I was on the airplane home when the idea for the story below occurred to me. Still, I had to jot things down! Before I knew it, the pilot announces “In 10 minutes, we’ll be on the ground.” Wow, time really does fly when you’re typing stories on your phone – pun not intended.

Let me know how you feel about the story: What do you think? How do you think it all ended?

“Please don’t do this, please, please…” she begged as her shoulders shook. Her sobs echoed throughout the desolate room and rippled with her torn black dress. 

“Oh, but darling, you look so beautiful with that painted face of yours all stressed out!” drawled Criminal as he traced the dripping black mascara all over her wildly red, swollen face. 

There was something purely unnerving about his voice. When he spoke with excitement, it was as if he were mustering the collective power of every muscle and nerve in his body to evoke emotion. It was as if he were laboring, trying far too hard, to sound like a soul, like a young boy trying desperately to behave during the five days before Christmas. But one earful later and you just knew there was no emotion whatsoever in his voice. Not a flicker of humanity. Zero.

The two little boys stood off to the side, enthralled by the scene before them. They looked on as this strange-looking man drew a line across his neck in the air in front of Mommy. Oh? An invisible line? How fascinating! One little boy, Aiden, sucked his thumb curiously and held onto his handmade taupe sandals, his blue eyes widening to take in all this great new learning experience. At his feet lay his younger brother, Owen, who was still learning to stand. Owen’s brunette curls bounced with each slight motion of his head. It was quite odd really, how both were so calm and content. And somehow, in spite of their many bumps and bruises and freshly scratched wounds, neither boy cried. Each bruise blended perfectly into the rest of the brown, splotchy basement.

As she continued groveling, Criminal went through the motions; everything was clear as day. 

And now, silence—save for the barely audible whimpers of the woman. Neither child gave any semblance of being alarmed as each looked on.

This time, utter silence. The dim lights flickered as if intentionally placed there for dramatic effect.

And then, breaking the silence: “Well, darling. It looks like I have to do this after all. Very unfortunate, I must say.”

Her livid eyes widened with a crazed kind of animal fear. “No, no, … please no, no… I beg you with all my heart and and all and all the bones in my body I will give you anything, anything, anything just let my sons – anything – and me, and.. I mean, just please let my sons and me, and me, and- P- p- p- p-…”

Her torn fingernails left red streaks on the ground in front of her as she continued clawing at him for mercy.

“Oh shut up darling, I only said it because I love to hear you beg and grovel. Anyways, we all know that I need you for one more thing before you go,” he hissed in her ear through smiling, white teeth.

Her crumpled form writhed but then slowly stilled itself with calm. Then, like a rushing river, crazed joy pulsed through her veins with astonishing speed; what had once been a nearly motionless shell was now frantically grabbing for his ankles and feet and shins to kiss them in rejoice, in bliss, in acknowledgment of another night to live. 

But he lied. As do many criminals.

Without another word or pause, Criminal’s hand arced gracefully over to the wicked-looking lever.

One small pull? But of course! They’d be right on their way, her and those adorable little bastards. Almost brings a tear to my eye.

A nice buzzing sound. Then, 1, 2, 3, pop! 

And they were all right back to where they belonged.

~ Ruth


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