Note: Intended for release on Friday, October 29th. Apologies for the delay. Happy reading!
It was an insignificant package, wrapped in brown paper, her name printed in block letters. It measured fourteen inches long and four inches wide. Her heart skipped a beat and eyes widened with excitement. She scooped it up with the rest of her mail left on her front doorstep and hurried into her cold, dark house.
It had been nearly one month since last she saw it and nothing was going to keep her from opening it right away. Her hands trembled from the excitement. She sat down in her living room and tried to calm her breath as she tugged on the brown cord neatly tied around the brown wrapping paper. The few pieces of tape were easy enough to peel off and she carefully unwrapped the rectangular box. She tossed the brown paper aside and took a deep breath before lifting the lid. There it was.
After years of use the six inch handle was worn and smeared with sweat. But the hard work and labor it endured was contained in its head. Covered in blood, pieces of clothing, hair and who knew what else, made Kelly’s heart race. What she admired most was how it never became dull. Not once did she feel the need to sharpen the edge just before swinging it down on some unsuspecting, yet warranted, person.
She laid the axe down on her coffee table and pulled back the long sheet of cotton used to mask any sound or suspicion during delivery. Under it, she found the familiar envelope with her name written on it in block letters. In true fashion, she walked over to her kitchen and poured herself a glass of wine. Returning to her seat, she reached under the couch and pulled out a shoe box, placing it on her lap. In it were dozens of envelopes with similar handwriting neatly organized inside. She opened the envelope and with one hand holding her wine, unfolded the letter:
“You look lovelier in person”
Her hands shook as she dropped both her wine and the letter to the floor. The glass bounced on the carpet as red liquid splashed out onto the letter. Kelly watched it in horror, her heart racing even faster than before. Then came a knock at her front door, so quiet she wasn’t sure it was real. Maybe it was all in her head? He wouldn’t come to her house? They made a solemn vow to never meet. It made the killings easier and the mystery of who was at the other end all the more exciting for both of them.
The knock came again and she jumped up from her seat. It couldn’t be him. She pinched the letter between her thumb and forefinger and ran to her kitchen to throw it in the trash before grabbing some cleaning supplies and walking calmly to her front door to answer it. Whoever it was she could just turn away, explaining how busy she is at the moment.
She took a deep breath and opened the door, shocked to see her neighbor who lives two doors down.
“Kelly, right?” he asked. He wore a deep purple cardigan over a black button up shirt, the collar perfectly stiff and hugging his neck for a perfect fit. For a brief moment Kelly imagined what it would be like to take her axe and— “Sorry to interrupt you, but I saw a strange man lurking around your house earlier. It looked like he left a package on your doorstep?” Her neighbor peeked into her house, trying to look around or at least be let in, but she didn’t budge. Gripping her front door to close it on him.
“Strange man? Probably just a new mailman on our route. It was a package I was expecting, actually. But thank you for your concern.” Kelly started to close the door slowly when it suddenly stopped and she realized he was preventing it from closing with his foot.
“He wasn’t wearing a uniform. Just in case, I called the police. You can’t be too careful.”
“You did what? Why would you do that?”
“They’ll probably want to examine the package he left on your doorstep. You haven’t opened it yet, have you?”
Dazed and confused over what she was just told, Kelly hardly noticed when her neighbor managed to slip past her into the house. He glanced around, searching for the long rectangular box.
“Like I already told you,” Kelly said, coming back to the present, “I was expecting it and you had no right calling the police. When they arrive please be sure to tell them just that.”
“Ah,” he said, looking towards her living room, “there it is.” He started walking towards the box, it’s lid removed, exposing what was inside. In a panic Kelly dropped everything she was holding in her hands. A roll of paper towel, bottle of bleach, and yellow gloves bounced and rolled onto the floor. It worked. He turned and proceeded to help her pick them up.
“I’m so sorry. I’ve just been a clutz today.” Kelly stared down at him, a frown on her face, unsure of what to do. He not only saw that she received a package but he saw who left it. Which meant he might be watching her house right now. Once the police show up he’s bound to leave and hopefully for good.
Kelly already had a list she liked to keep by her bedside table of people in her life she could live without. Her neighbor two doors down was not on it. Killing too close to home could easily point the finger right at her and that was the last thing she wanted or needed in her life. But the axe was just a few feet away and his bare neck looked oh so inviting…
“Where should I put these?” he asked, straightening back up with everything in his hands.
“Oh, the kitchen island is fine.”
While he walked into her kitchen she ran to the box on her coffee table and before she had made a decision she removed the axe and placed the lid back on the box.
“So, is it from a secret admirer? I’ll bet it was flowers,” he asked, walking back to the foyer where Kelly stood, one hand behind her back, leaning against the front door. Her neighbor would not be returning home tonight.
“Yes, actually. You could say it’s from my secret admirer. He knows exactly what my tastes are and sends me this same gift at least once a month.” She gripped the handle of the axe tightly and felt a familiar chill course through her veins. She’d never done something like this in her own home and wished she had prepared for the occasion. “You know, I’m embarrassed to say I don’t remember your name.”
His expression suddenly changed. She didn’t know him well, beyond the occasional morning wave they gave each other when passing by, but she could see it in his eyes.
“Oh, you know my name, Kelly.” The hand gripping the axe suddenly became sweaty and she could feel the weight of it against her back. “Didn’t your mother ever tell you, you shouldn’t accept gifts from a perfect stranger?”
“Who are you?” she said, her voice stammering. “Get out of my house.” She opened her front door for him to leave.
“I’m afraid I can’t do that. And you know why. But you have nothing to fear from me, Kelly. We’re the same.”
“You didn’t call the police, did you?” he shook his head. Kelly closed the door and took a step back into the living room. “The address. Where I send the package back. It’s clear across the country. How—”
“Oh, I have all my mail forwarded to this address. And...sometimes I’ll fly back to my family home for some unfinished business.”
“Why didn’t you tell me before? Why tell me now?”
“I have an idea I wanted to run by you and it seemed better to discuss it in person rather than through a letter.” He took a step towards her and she took a step back. She knew what he was capable of and wasn’t about to take any chances. “I have exactly one dozen axes in the trunk of my car. All of them in boxes. All of them ready to be shipped to twelve lost souls just like you and I, looking for a chance to make something of themselves.”
Kelly couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Sharing the axe she now had hidden behind her back was the best thing that ever happened to her in her life. The memories they shared with each other, present on the blade. That was something she held sacred between just the two of them and now he wanted to take away the bond they have and bring others in?!
He watched a smile spread across her face and her eyes light up. Perhaps he was right in taking this gamble to meet her face-to-face with his idea. He returned her smile but it was too late. The blade met his neck with such a force it nearly cut right through. But it was slightly dull from years of use and neither wanting to clean and sharpen away the memories.
He dropped to his knees, staring up into her bright blue eyes. She yanked the axe out of his neck and let him fall forwards onto her carpet, his blood mixing with the wine she spilled earlier till they became one in the same stain.
FULL DISCLOSURE: 1. I’m not perfect. 2. I’m not rich. Keeping those two things in mind, you may come across typos in grammar, punctuation, and tense (my known biggest writing issue). My feelings won’t be hurt if you point them out to me in the comments.
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