by Van Peltekian
The house is asleep as the murderer pulls up in his pickup truck with the cover on the back. A family-sized SUV sits silently in the driveway, so he parks across the street. He steps out of the truck and into the late spring air, looking at the house for a moment, just to see how many lights are still on. The front porch light—which is no surprise—and an upstairs window in the far right corner are illuminated, not by the overhead light, but by what was most likely a desk lamp—the eldest daughter’s room—probably up late studying for her advanced-placement exams.
Unperturbed, the murderer opens the door of the truck and pulls out an aluminum toolbox containing screwdrivers, electrical tape, and various other instruments typically used by electricians. Box in hand, he crosses the street toward the sleeping house. He walks past the front porch with the light bulb burning orange-yellow, and over to the fence, opening and closing it quietly behind him, continuing through the yard to the back door. He removes his shoes, steel-toed work boots—he’s been very busy tonight. If one were to inspect the boots closely they’d see the flecks of blood that he missed while cleaning up. The door is unlocked, just as he knows it will be. Letting the door swing open, he enters.
There is a dog, a golden retriever lying on a dog bed, blocking his way. It opens its eyes to the sound of the door and looks at the man standing over him. It wags its tail tiredly and rolls over, exposing its belly. Not much of a guard dog, the murderer thinks as he takes a couple of steps toward the animal, and squats down in front of it. Shortly after, he continues on his way.
Not a single light is on in the house, but the murderer glides across the hardwood floors and throw rugs with careless ease. He knows this darkness well and walks with little urgency. Nobody hears him as he goes to the kitchen, as he sets the toolbox down on the island counter, grabs an apple from the large ceramic bowl, and washes it before biting into the crisp flesh. Nobody hears him as he grabs a glass from the drying rack beside the kitchen sink and fills it, gulping the water down, rifling through the mail with feigned interest. Nobody hears him as he places the glass down in the kitchen sink and stalks out of the room.
Finally, he arrives at the staircase. He begins his ascent to the second story—the bedroom wing. Three bedrooms, all of them occupied. The light from the corner bedroom is still on. He makes his way down the hall and stops in front of one of the bedrooms. He peers inside the open door at the figure of a boy who shifts restlessly in his sleep. The murderer waits in the darkness, watching the boy as he relaxes back into his slumber. He pulls the door closed soundlessly and makes his way to the next room. He opens the door to reveal a sleeping woman. He enters the bedroom and shuts the door behind him.
The door latches shut with a click. He walks across the room and removes his shirt, removes his socks, removes his pants. He stands in his boxers in the dark. The woman stirs and opens her eyes.
“Hugh?” she mumbles into the darkness of the bedroom.
“It’s me. Sorry. I didn’t mean to wake you.”
“What time is it?”
“You’re home so late.”
“Me and some of the guys went out after work, just lost track of the time. I know you hate it. Sorry.”
“Don’t be sorry, you work so hard. I want you to have fun.”
He grins in the darkness.
“Come to bed.”
She shifts back into the bliss of slumber. The murderer makes his way to the bathroom and starts the shower, steps inside. He cleanses himself of the day’s activities.
He walks back into the bedroom and climbs into the bed. Her hand reaches out and grabs his. She pulls him in close. He nestles into her neck.
“Love you.” She says, feeling secure, warm, safe. She’ll never know the things he’s done, what he’s truly capable of.
“Love you too.” He says the words with a tone of reciprocation, even though he doesn’t feel them. He never will. The deception fills him with glee.
The murderer smiles the smile of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He closes his eyes and goes to sleep.
Van Peltekian is a writer residing in Bellingham. He moved to the Pacific Northwest in 2016 after graduating from DePaul University in Chicago. When not writing, he can be found reading, taking photos, hiking with his dog, or playing music.