So close yet so far. Esther sat on her bed, looking into the beady black eyes of the blue horse plush. The tall man, he always seemed to disappear when she wasn’t looking. She just needed an opportunity to speak to him, to see if he remembers that day. But he didn’t even seem to notice her when it happened. He might not even know what he’s done for her.
Esther sighed, she wanted to go look for him some more; but first thing’s first, she needed a job.
* * *
Fortunately, Esther managed to find a job after quite a bit of searching. She was hired to work as a waitress at a local bar. It was a decent job, not too difficult or extreme; although it was a bother to have to work around drunken men.
One night when working at the bar, there was someone new among the usual rabble of alcoholics. He was sipping a beer while looking through some files. He had brown hair and a dark brown jacket on. As she passed by, Esther kept attempting to look at the files and read a sentence or two. Passing by one time, she must have lingered, because he noticed her looking. He turned and looked at her; she noticed that, like his hair and jacket, his eyes were also brown.
“Want to know what I’m reading about?” He asked casually, as if they saw each other every day.
“Umm, sure” Esther sat down beside him to have a look. He opened one of the files and put the papers before her. They were mostly text, and only a few highly distorted photographs.
“I’m investigating several murders and so called ‘suicides’ that happened in the area,” He took a sip of beer; “not very many leads though. A bit gruesome, many of the victims seemed to have been killed in very painful ways. Some of them had their faces formed into screams, even when they were dead.”
Esther looked through the photographs, and she noticed something in one of them. It was a little bit hard to tell due to the distortion and terrible quality of the photo, but it seemed to be a photo of a small crowd of people, but a little bit farther back behind the crowd was someone else. The tall man. She let out a small gasp.
“O-oh! I’m sorry, did I scare you?” The man asked, concerned.
“No, no, it’s nothing.” Esther looked at the photo again, “So do you-”
“And then there’s the so called ‘suicides’,” He interrupted, taking another sip of beer; “Most of these people who seemed to have committed suicide didn’t seem like they had any motivation to, and very fragile bones as well! Why, just the other day someone jumped in front of a car! Happily married man, didn’t really have money problems, no one that saw him as a bad guy; bam! Dead! Hit by a car, broke both legs and a bunch of ribs.”
Esther could remember that scene well.
“And another time, a guy jumped off of a building. On the ground nearly all of his bones were broken, didn’t seem very likely for that to occur! This has been going on for a long time too, some people say it’s a bunch of different psychopaths; I think it’s the same guy, or a group of psychopaths. Those suicides weren’t suicides either, rather homicides. I read about cases from a long time ago too. One guy was found dead, but his face looked like it had been smashed into the wall! Could hardly tell it was even a face anymore! They think he had just shot someone that he was trying to mug, but still, damn!”
Memories came flooding back to Esther, as she remembered that mugger’s smashed face, if you could even call it a face anymore. The man noticed her face begin to go forlorn.
“Oh hey I’m sorry; I’ll stop talking about dead people now.” He paused awkwardly, “Well umm . . . Want me to buy you a drink?”
Esther was lost in thought, looking at the files.
“Do you have any suspects?” She asked abruptly.
“Well, not really. But sometimes at the murder scene we find cigarettes on the ground and- say, you don’t smoke do you?” He eyed her with suspicion.
“What? Me? You think I might be-?” She stuttered, “I don’t-”
“Ha! Just messing with ya!” He laughed and finished his beer. “So I uhh, don’t suppose I could buy you a drink?”
“No thanks.” Esther looked back at the files. They sat in silence for a few minutes.
“So umm, my name’s Ron, what’s yours?”
“Well, that’s certainly a pretty name, is it-?”
“Are these all the files you have?” Esther looked through the files to see if she missed anything.
“Well, you seem so interested in these cases maybe we could discuss them some more. Maybe over dinner? Friday? What time is good for you, ‘cause for me it’s-”
“I need to get back to work.” Esther stood up and walked away quickly, leaving Ron with his files and an empty glass.
* * *
On her way back home, Esther walked quickly. It was night and she was tired. When she was working Ron had continued to try and ask her out, but continuously got rejected.
There was a familiar smell in the air, one that brought back memories; blood. Esther quickened her pace, looking around frantically. After a minute or less of walking, she saw him again. The tall man.
He was looking down at someone struggling on the ground. His tendrils held the man’s mouth shut, the barbs digging into the man’s skin, and one of his shoes was pressed against the man’s chest, holding him to the ground.
Along with the scent of blood in the air, there was also the smell of smoke, and an odd burning smell. With a closer look, Esther saw that the barbed tendrils actually seemed to be burning the man’s skin slightly.
After a minute or two of watching his tendrils burn the man’s face, the tall man lifted his foot from the man’s chest, and the man tried to get up. Then the tall man stomped down onto the man’s chest, slamming him back down onto the asphalt. He repeated this several times, until the man’s movement stopped. The tall man stepped back and observed his work, pleased.
Picking up the body by the arm, the tall man moved towards a car parked on the side of the road. The car’s window was open, and he shoved the bloody carcass inside. The tall man laughed to himself; that was sure to freak people out.
Finished with what he was doing, the tall man returned to the side walk and began to walk away. Esther watched him leave, wondering what to do. This was a good opportunity to confront him, but she was nervous.
Gathering up her courage, Esther walked towards him, at a pace faster than his; so she caught up to him. Now only a few feet away from him, she didn’t know what to say. She couldn’t think of anything, so she decided to just say what comes to mind when he faces her. Esther took another step forward, and the tall man stopped walking. He must have sensed that she was there. He didn’t turn around, he just stopped.
Esther’s breath quickened; this was it. After years of waiting to meet him, she finally had her chance. She took a few steps forward, now within reach of him. A low growl rose from his throat. He slowly turned his head, the growl getting louder and more malicious. Esther took a small step back, but decided to grab the opportunity.
“M-my name’s-” Before she could continue, the tall man’s barbed tendrils shot out of his back. The growl turned into a roar, and he turned quickly to face her. Just as quickly as he had turned, one of the tendrils swung towards her and whipped her across the face and neck.
Esther flew backwards, pain screaming across her face as blood spattered onto the street. She slammed into the car that had the body stuffed into it. The car’s alarm went off, filling the silence of the night with its loud siren.
The tendril had both pierced and burned her. It was a mild burn, like that of a cigarette, but the cut was deep. Blood flowed down her face as she lost her vision in her right eye, the gash from the tendril stretched from her forehead, over her right eye, and down her cheek. There was also a smaller gash at the base of her neck.
The tall man walked towards her, still growling, tendrils all around him. Esther looked up at him weakly, trying to say something to him, but she couldn’t manage to get the words out. He looked down at her and raised another one of his tendrils, preparing to strike her again.
Then he stopped, and looked over to one of the buildings. Lights were turning on and it sounded like people were coming down to see what the commotion was. He quickly took out a pack of cigarettes and lit one for himself. Then his tendrils receded into his back, and he walked away casually; as if nothing had happened.
Esther tried to get up to go after him but fell back down. Her strength leaving her, she weakly raised one of her hands towards him and managed to call out to him.
“Wait . . . Come back . . . I . . . I need to talk to you . . . I . . .”
Several people came out of the building and started towards the car with the alarm. One of them screamed when they noticed the dead body that had been shoved into it, and another gasped when they saw Esther. They rushed towards her to help.
Esther’s hand dropped, but she fought to keep her eyes open, watching the tall man walk away.
“. . . Come back . . . Please . . .”
The tall man turned a corner and was gone. Esther fell over, motionless.