Three Nights

The air was cold.  Summer had finally relinquished its reign and had passed the torch onto fall, giving permission for the leaves to turn fiery shades of orange and scarlet and the wind to become frigid and bite playfully at the nose, ears, and fingers of whomever it came into contact with.  Edgar liked the cold and welcomed the icy breeze with zeal as he walked down empty streets.  It made what he did easier, more enjoyable.  Long periods of time in any high, windowless space could give any man heat exhaustion, even Edgar when he was younger, but the summer months were always unbearable.  Although the years of keen experience under his belt had made him less agitated by the heat, the record-breaking temperature from the previous months had nearly ruined him.  So when the mercury thermometer he kept in his truck started to slip slowly down, he couldn’t help but feel relief.

Edgar fingered the thermometer in his pocket.  Upon exiting his truck hours before, he had taken it and slipped it into his front pocket; it was one of the only items he took with him when he went on his trips.  In the same pocket as the thermometer, he also kept a small paperclip, one of his most favorite tools as it had the ability for a variety of things.  The last item, kept in his other pocket, was a small Swiss-army knife he’d found discarded in a gutter two years prior.  He’d found it while walking to one of his vacations and had picked it up, thinking it was interesting, that it had a story that could only be deciphered after years of loyal ownership.  It was three days later that the knife had proven itself useful and had saved his life.  He doubted he’d ever use it again for such a purpose, but he kept it anyway for good luck – if there was such a thing.
The destination he was walking to was ten miles from where he’d parked his truck, it was safer that way, and he’d just passed the ninth landmark – a bright yellow house on the corner of a street named “Lavender,” he’d thought it clever at the time – which meant he had one mile left.
His heart began to pump harder with the excitement of what was to come.  It had been too long since his last vacation and the previous place had been far too small and hot.  This time he took his time, weeks in fact, choosing the right house, then even longer watching, analyzing every detail, it to make sure it fit his specific criteria.  

The house he’d chosen was a masterpiece.  It had three floors and a spacious attic; it was an obelisk compared to the last house he’d vacationed it, and it was painted in a soft shade of cream.  It had a large veranda adorned with porch swings and glass-topped tables where, on several occasions, he’d seen the residents of the house spending their time sipping lemonade or beer while playing cards with friends.  It had two large oak trees in the front yard, to one of which was attached a tire swing now forgotten and weathered with age because the youngest child had long since outgrown it.

When he had finally finished the last mile and was approaching the house which stood at the end of a somewhat lonely boulevard, he stopped by the tire swing and rested a calloused hand on the cracked rubber.  There was something deep below the surface, something ethereal that he liked about the forgotten swing, something he felt deserved a moment of respectful silence.  When his moment was over, he turned to the house and stared at it for several minutes.  He wanted to breathe in every last detail of the outside and feel as though he’d lived there his entire life.

Moving to the backyard, which wasn’t guarded by any sort of gate or watchdog, he did the same thing, staring at the structure, taking in the colors, the shapes, the sounds and the smells.  He wanted, no, he needed to remember this house, to feel as if it were his.

The back door was glass, a barrier very easily dealt with if stealth wasn’t a requirement, but it was, so he picked the lock with his paperclip to gain entry.

The interior of the house was exactly as he’d pictured it.  The back door led into the kitchen which was tiled with black tiles and decorated in classy blacks and whites.  He wanted to explore the house, but he knew that once he was inside, he needed to act fast.  Even though he knew the family, the Robinsons as their mail told him, would be out for at least another hour, he couldn’t chance them coming home early and finding him. Immediately he went to the refrigerator and opened it to examine its contents.  He extracted a bowl of cold vegetable soup, a half empty carton of orange juice, and three apples, then closed the fridge.

From the refrigerator, he could see the hallway which, at the end of it, was two sets of stairs, one leading up and the other leading down, another hallway on the left, then the threshold to the living room on the right. Edgar took the food quickly up the stairs and set it down in the middle of the hall underneath the door with the drop-down steps to the attic.  Without missing a beat, he then turned around and headed back to the main floor, to the right and down the hall to the room where he knew the daughter slept.  He opened the white door and stepped into a completely different world – the daughter, Mary’s world.  The walls were the same shade of cream as the rest of the house, but were lined with photographs of the beautiful, black-haired sixteen-year-old and her friends and posters of shirtless actors and boy bands.

He crossed to the middle of the room and lay down on the queen-sized bed.  He always enjoyed this part: seeing the world from the eyes of the family members.  To his right, by the window that looked into the front yard, was a white armoire.  This, he already knew, was where her clothes were kept.  He’d seen her use it countless times from the oak tree over the previous weeks of surveillance, but it looked different up close.  It was as if he’d seen it in a dream and was, just now, seeing it for the first time.  He got off the bed and opened it, revealing Mary’s clothes.  He examined the clothing thoroughly, then picked a plaid pink shirt with white buttons and small pockets on the chest and pulled it from the armoire.  This was the shirt he’d seen her wear yesterday.  This was what he’d take.  He lifted the shirt from its hanger, folded it, then closed the armoire and left the room.

On the other side of the hall and to the left was the son’s room.  At seventeen, he was the oldest.  Unlike Mary’s room, Tyson’s walls were only adorned with a three posters.  The decorations that hung on the walls, the ones Edgar knew Tyson cared most about, were replica weapons.  There were five in total: an axe, a sword, a mace, a machete, and a dagger.   Edgar smiled upon seeing the weapons – they gave him ideas.

He lay on Tyson’s bed as well, imagining what life was like for the boy and relishing the experience.  When he was finished, Edgar took a pair of blue basketball shorts from the floor, folded them up, and carried them with the shirt up the stairs to his collection of food.

The last room was on the top floor, the master bedroom where Robert and Susan slept.  He entered the room and repeated his ritual of lying on the bed and choosing an item of clothing from each – a blue, striped collared shirt from Robert and a black brassier from Susan – then left the room.

Standing under the door to the attic, Edgar looked at his watch.  He had fifteen minutes before he was in danger of being discovered.  Five of those minutes he spent using the master bathroom, taking care to avoid the large mirror in front of the sink – he hated mirrors.  The last ten minutes were spent sitting in a large red chair located in the living room he knew belonged to Richard.  When he heard the family pull up the driveway in their silver town car, he stood from the chair, quietly crept up the stairs and pulled the handle down to reveal the steps to the attic.  He carried the food and clothing up the steps, then pulled the wooden stairs back up, just as he heard Mary enter the front door.  

Edgar silently maneuvered around the dust covered boxes and bags filled with long forgotten memories and Christmas decorations and found a spot to sit in the corner.  Concealed in darkness, Edgar smiled happily and bit into an apple while he listened to the Robinson family bustle about the house, completely ignorant of their newest member of the household that would be living with them for the next three days.


Edgar couldn’t sleep.  He never could the first night; he was too excited.  Instead, he waited.  He stared at the watch he kept on his wrist, listening to the sounds of Richard and Susan sleep beneath his feet, waiting until the small hand touched the three.  As experience had taught him, three a.m. was the perfect time to leave the attic and roam the house.  People were generally deeply sleeping by that time, and even if they weren’t, all he needed was time enough to exit the attic undetected, which was a small task.

When the time finally came, he silently pushed the steps down into the hallway, slid down them, then lifted them back into place.  Now was the time to explore the house.  He slithered down the hallway and the two flights of stairs to the basement.  The basement was void of windows and doors, so he knew very little about it from his outside surveillance.

There were three rooms in the basement.  The first room was a large entertainment room complete with an expensive sound system, a 72” 3D television, and several video game systems.  If Edgar was interested at all in money, he would have cleaned the room out, but he cared very little for money when he was on vacation.

The next room, down a small hallway and at the left was the laundry room.  There were four baskets, each labeled with the name of the owner.  Had Edgar known about this room, he would have chosen the clothes from it instead of from the individual rooms.  He preferred dirty clothing to clean, as he felt it showed more about the people he was living with.  Clean clothes only showed him what brand of laundry detergent the family used.

He took a moment sifting through the baskets, smelling the soiled garments.

When he was finished, Edgar moved onto the next room which was across the hall from the laundry room.  This was Robert’s study.  There was a bookshelf on the right wall, a couch on the left wall, and in the middle was a desk with a laptop atop it.  Edgar left the room, not bothering to explore.  He didn’t care what the man did in his spare time or what he did for a living.  He only cared about the way the man experiences life, and who he is as a person.

Back up the stairs, Edgar slithered down the dark hallway toward Mary’s room.  Her door was closed, but he knew he could open it without a sound; it was one of the skills he’d honed over years of practice.  The house was dark, every light had been turned off before the family had gone to bed, and Edgar hadn’t turned on any lights, he never did as his eyes were so well adjusted to darkness from living in attics, so no light spilled into the room when he opened the door.

He stood at the foot of her bed for a long time, staring at her, watching her sleep.  She slept on her side, wrapped around a large body pillow.  Edgar wondered how many times she’d pretended the pillow was a man, perhaps a future husband that she could sleep with.  A soft grin crossed his face with the knowledge that he had that she did not – that she’d never know the difference.

An hour later he stood at the foot of Tyson’s bed just as he had Mary’s.  Tyson slept on his stomach with his head turned to the left.  Edgar, for reasons unknown, cared little for watching the boy sleep.  Instead, he watched the weapons, the tools that lined the walls.  He fantasized about them, dreaming up fantastic schemes in which he could use these tools on one of his vacations.  Perhaps when he was finished he would remove one from its hooks on the wall as a souvenir.

Edgar spent far less time in Tyson’s room than Mary’s.  If he’d spent any more time thinking about the weapons on the walls, he would have been tempted to take them and ruin the rest of his vacation, and he didn’t want that.  He had two more nights to go.  Instead, he went back to the kitchen where he found a pile of dirty plates in the sink.  The Robinsons had eaten steak for dinner with corn on the cob and potato salad, the remnants of which still clung to the plates like fond memories.  

He extracted a plate from a stack in the sink and a knife and fork from underneath the stack and placed them on the table at the far end of the kitchen.  Returning, Edgar located the garbage can and examined its contents.  As he has suspected, several pieces of unfinished meat and about four tablespoons of potato salad sat in the bottom.  He scooped them up and put them on his plate.

At many of the houses he’d vacationed at, he’d not dared to make such a bold and frankly unsanitary move, but from the weeks of watching the family, he’d noted that the Robinsons were an extremely clean people.  Robert Robinson washed the garbage cans out with the hose and a bottle of soap once a week and Edgar had heard the sound of the water in the back yard just before dinner, so he knew his meal would be clean.

Edgar savored every bite of the meal.  He didn’t eat because he was hungry, but because he wanted to feel even more like a part of the Robinson family.  He wanted to taste what they had last tasted and experience a meal in their home.  It was a small meal, but it suited his purposes more than sufficiently.

When his meal was finished, he looked at the time and noted that it was almost five o’ clock.  With the sun set to rise at any moment, it would be dangerous to be out of the attic, so he wasted no time in climbing the stairs back into his temporary living quarters.


Edgar awoke to the sound of closing car doors and casual goodbyes.  He looked at his watch and saw that he’d been asleep for three hours.  He looked at the thermometer which he’d gently placed next to the Swiss army knife and paperclip atop his collection of stolen clothes next to the food.  It read 76 degrees, which was, in his opinion, the perfect condition for living in an attic.

From the floor below him, Edgar heard a door open, then close.  He quietly and carefully shifted his weight so he was lying on his stomach and pressed an ear to the dry, dusty wood floor.  He couldn’t hear as well as he would have if the person was in the floor just below him, but he’d spent years training his hearing to be extremely sensitive, so the muffled footsteps on the main floor painted a vague picture in his head.

There was one person in the house aside from himself.  The rest of the family had likely decided to join Tyson for his basketball game at the high school, which happened every week.  Edgar felt a rare twinge of disappointment at the realization that he’d probably missed the excitement of Tyson trying to find the shorts that were now folded beneath Mary’s shirt by Edgar’s left calf.

The footsteps moved around the kitchen, then worked their way upstairs.  The gentle creak of the wood underneath them told Edgar that the person who belonged to the footsteps was light, meaning that both Richard and Tyson were out of the question.  Between Mary and Susan, Edgar guessed that it was likely Mary, assuming that Susan wouldn’t want to miss out on her son’s game.

He listened to Mary walk down the hall, then suddenly stop by the hatch that lead to the attic.  He wondered if she would open it, walk up the stairs, and find him, lying on the floor with a small collection of food and stolen clothing.  It had never happened before, he had never been caught so early in the game, but part of him wished she would.  Part of him longed to find out what would happen if she discovered him in the attic.  Would she scream?  Would she run?  Would he be able to catch her before she could contact help?  And if he could catch her, what would he do with her before her family got home?  The questions scared him, but part of him still wanted to experience the exhilaration of it all.

From underneath him, he heard the hall closet open, then close, abruptly stopping his daydream in its tracks.  The closet beneath him was where the Robinsons kept their bath towels, which meant Mary was about to shower.  Edgar smiled with sick pleasure.  With just one resident in the house, he could explore and experience the house in the daylight.  The thrill of the possibility of being caught was tantalizing, even though he knew it wouldn’t happen.  His heart began to race with excitement.

When he heard the shower in the master bathroom start, Edgar counted to thirty then quietly slid down the stairs, making sure to put them back before he left.

Careful to listen to every move made by Mary, he crept down the hall and into the master bedroom.  She had left both the door to the bedroom and the door to the bathroom open, probably so she could hear if anybody entered the house.  He entered the bedroom and sat on the corner of the bed.  A sense of power, of omnipotence, overtook him.  She was completely vulnerable.  He could do whatever he wanted at that very moment and have no repercussions.  He sat on the bed for a long while, listening to the water, watching the flesh colored silhouette behind the translucent shower curtain as steam rose up above it, fantasizing about different ways he could take the young woman’s life in that very moment.

After half an hour, Mary shut the water off and Edgar stood up.  Had he been a voyeur, he may have lingered longer, but that was not his way.  Although he watched and listened to many different kinds of human interaction, he still believed that a person had a God given right to privacy in situations such as the one before him if they deserved it.  He left the room silently, allowing Mary to maintain that right.

On the floor below Mary, Edgar stood in Tyson’s room.  He examined the weapons on the walls, giving each of them special attention.  He traced their outlines with his fingers and tested the sharpness of the blades with the ball of his thumb.  None of them were very sharp; save for the mace whose metal tips would easily puncture flesh with the right amount of pressure.  He lifted the weapon from its hooks on the wall and bounced it in his hands.  It was lighter than he had expected, but still heavy enough to require a certain amount of caution on his part.  He returned the mace to its hooks.

Just as he was about to leave the room, he heard a call from upstairs that surprised him and made him freeze.  “Hello?”  It was Mary.

Edgar frowned.  How could she know she wasn’t alone in the house?  He had been completely silent.  Even if the removal of the mace had made a sound, it wouldn’t have been loud enough for her untrained ears to pick up.  He thought for a moment, retracing his exact steps, then realized where he’d made the mistake.  In his urgency to leave the bedroom, he had failed to straighten the comforter on the bed where he had sat.  It was a minor detail that could have been overlooked by anyone, and it would have been if not for the unusual care the Robinson family took in cleanliness and order.  The bed had been near tight enough to bounce a quarter off of, so when he sat on it, it must have done a great deal of wrinkling.

He shook his head.  Such a foolish mistake for a veteran of the art – it was disgusting.  He knew Mary would come down the stairs, so before he heard her footsteps he dropped to the ground and crawled under Tyson’s bed, not wanting to risk further exposure.

Sure enough the footsteps came down the stairs, and once again Marry called out “hello.”  When she received no answer, she made her way down the hall, passing Tyson’s open door.

Edgar looked up as she passed and saw a pair of bare feet below a white bath towel.  She hadn’t dressed yet and she was headed to her room, which meant Edgar had a solid five minutes, probably longer, to move out of the room.  As soon as he heard her bedroom door close, he crawled out from under the bed and exited the room.

Moving quickly, he headed toward the kitchen.  Although he wasn’t thirsty, he had run out of orange juice which he had overindulged in while he waiting for the family to fall asleep the night before, and he knew he needed to drink or else be trapped in the attic when the family was home with a dry throat and a sandpaper tongue.  He selected a tall glass from the cabinet, filled it up from the faucet, drank, and repeated the process once more.  When he was finished, he dried the glass and put it back in the cabinet.

Looking at his watch he noted that he had been down from the attic for nearly an hour.  He guessed he would have at least another hour before the rest of the family would be home.  With Mary in her room, he could easily slip up into the attic without detection, but he chose against the idea.  He wanted to watch more, to learn more, to feel more.  He would find another window of opportunity later.

Loud music began to play from Mary’s room, relieving Edgar of the requirement of silent movement, but he still moved quietly.  He wouldn’t want to risk a game of cat and mouse where he was anything but the cat.  He walked up the stairs and toward the master bedroom again.  He wanted to spend more time in that room than he had the day before.

The room was larger than the others and had a king sized bed in the middle.  He looked at the place where he had sat and saw that the sheets had been smoothed out as if he had never been there.  He made special care not to touch the bed again.  

On either side of the bed was a nightstand with two drawers.  On Robert’s side was a lamp, a pen and a crossword puzzle.  Edgar opened the first drawer and found reading glasses, more pens, a box of tissues, and a black handgun.  He lifted the gun from its place and examined it.  Edgar knew very little of guns, as he rarely used them, but he knew enough to slip the ammo clip from its handle and see that it was loaded.  He placed the gun back in the drawer and closed it.  The second drawer was less interesting than the first, containing a pair of black leather shoes and a tin of shoe wax.

Moving to the other side of the bed, Edgar examined the contents of Susan’s nightstand.  Along with a hairbrush, makeup, and other feminine paraphernalia, he found a corkscrew sitting on top of a small pad of yellow paper.  When he lifted the corkscrew and turned the pad around, he saw that a phone number was written on it.  Edgar smiled, pocketed the corkscrew, returned the pad of paper to its place and closed the drawer.  He didn’t need to look through anything else in this room, he’d found its dirty little secret.

Days before he’d arrived at the Robinson household, he’d been watching it from afar when he saw a yellow Cadillac drive up.  He’d seen this car arrive once a week, but both times he’d been unable to find out who it belonged to.  That day, he’d been prepared for it.  When the man stepped out, Edgar pulled binoculars from his windbreaker and put them up to his eyes.  Watching through windows, he’d seen that the man with the Cadillac was Susan’s secret lover, whom she had shared a bottle of red wine with that morning while her husband was at work.  Through her bedroom window, he’d seen her use the corkscrew to open the wine and pour it for the both of them.  She had placed it somewhere beside the bed, but his angle had prohibited him from seeing where.  It was clear now that she’d put it in the drawer to conceal it from her husband.

Edgar knew that she wouldn’t know the corkscrew was missing from its place, and if she had, she wouldn’t mention anything to her husband for fear of being found out.  He would take it back to his place in the attic and spend hours feeling it in his fingers, examining it, pondering the magnificent art it would soon be a part of because it was now in the possession of an artist.

Leaving the room, Edgar glanced at his watch again.  He had forty minutes before he was really playing with fire.  That was just enough time for one of his favorite vacation activities.  He slipped down the stairs with excitement.  It had been so long since he'd been able to play more than just his standard games during one of his vacations.  The families of the last two houses he'd stayed in hadn't left for more than fifteen minutes at a time, so he'd been completely confined to the attics in which he dwelled, so he could hardly contain his excitement when the opportunity to toy with the residents psychologically presented itself.

Thirty seconds was all it took for him to devise a plan of action, a plan that would be near to impossible to carry out for anyone without his talents of stealth and silence.  He entered the kitchen and opened the cabinet that he had put his glass in.  He removed the glass, closed the cabinet and then waited for Mary's song to end.  A minute and a half later her song began to fade out and Edgar flung the glass as hard as he could at the black tile of the kitchen, shattering the glass into barely distinguishable pieces and even cracking a corner of the tile it collided with.

Immediately the music stopped and Mary came running out of her room wearing nothing but a pair of shorts and a grey sports bra to investigate the sound.  She turned the corner into the kitchen and saw the mess in front of her.  Her eyes widened and mouth gaped open and she turned around in circles looking for someone, or something that could have caused the sound.  When she found nothing, she took a deep breath as if to calm herself, then went about cleaning up the mess.

From around the corner on the stairs, Edgar watched her.  She had passed him in her rush to investigate the crash and had come mere inches from where he stood.  Had she turned her head, had she paid attention to her peripherals, she could have seen him, and that exhilarated Edgar.  He had been close enough to smell the strawberry conditioner she had used in her dark hair and the scent still lingered in the air after she had passed.  It was intoxicating.

He took one final whiff of the scent and slithered down the hall toward Mary's room.

From the kitchen, Mary swept up the shards of glass, trying to convince herself that it had fallen from the counter top somehow, but her intuition told her otherwise.  There was a presence in the house, she could feel it.  She knew she wasn't alone. 

Mary swept the glass into a pile, then turned to retrieve the dustpan from underneath the sink.  With the dustpan in hand, she bent over to sweep the glass into it but a loud BANG from the hallway stopped her.  Startled, she leapt back, stepping on a piece of glass she’d failed to sweep into the pile.  She cried out in pain and surprise, then mentally chastised herself for not wearing shoes or socks while cleaning up glass.

Using the counter for balance, she removed the quarter-sized shard from her foot, then bandaged it with a large bandage she extracted from the medicine cabinet that hung above the stove.  Once her foot was cleaned up, she quickly limped over to the hall to see what had made the sound.  Upon arriving at the hall her heart began to race and she could feel the blood drain from her face.  The sound she had heard was the slamming of a door, her bedroom door, that she was sure she left open in her haste to investigate the falling glass.

"Hello?" she called, but only silence answered.  She didn't expect an answer anyway, but the sound of her voice cutting through the silence like a knife gave her confidence to pursue the mystery further.  Resting her hand on the brass doorknob of her bedroom door, she took a deep, calming breath.  She didn't know what she expected to find on the other side of the door, but part of her needed to find out.  Just as she was about to twist the knob and expose who, or what, was in her room, she stopped herself, realizing how stupid it was to enter the room without some sort of defensive weapon.  She turned around, careful not to use her injured foot, and hobbled to her brother's room, completely unaware that she was walking into the very room her tormentor was hiding.

The mace was hanging on the far wall of the room opposite the door.  Although she had several other weapons to choose from, she felt that the mace would do the most debilitating damage.  She reached her hand forward and at the exact moment she did so, she felt a cool breeze lift the strands of hair on the back of her head, then a sudden BANG as the room to the door slammed behind her.  She screamed loudly, unable to keep her cool any longer, and melted into the corner where she would stay until her family arrived.


Edgar sat in the dark attic with a pleased expression across his pale face.  Not only had he managed to terrorize the young teenager, but when she had tried to explain what had happened to her family and attributed the event to ghosts, her family had laughed it off, saying that she must have been imagining things after the glass fell.  He had gotten away with scaring the teen, getting close to her, standing behind the door as she entered her brother’s room and getting another whiff of the aromatic strawberries just before he slammed the door behind him.  She hadn’t pursued him.  She couldn’t.  He was untouchable – almost God-like.

He twisted the Swiss army knife between his fingers, blade out, reminiscing about the one time he actually had been caught.  That was when the knife had saved his life.  It was the third night, his favorite night, and he had finished with every member of the family he was staying with except for a twenty year-old son who was staying with the family for the Christmas break from college.  He had been an unexpected arrival to begin with, not even the family knew he was coming, but when Edgar had chosen to save the boy for last and he walked in to see Edgar standing over his dead mother clutching a baseball bat he’d retrieved from under the bed, chaos ensued.

The boy had lunged at Edgar before he could raise the bat to defend himself, knocking the weapon out of his hands and onto the floor.  Edgar could still hear the wood-on-wood clatter as the bat hit the floor.  It was the only time he had found himself fearful of failure.

Wrestling on the ground, Edgar had managed to pin the boy, placing his knees on each of the boy’s shoulders and making it impossible for him to escape.  Without a thought, without the usual artistic flick of the wrist, Edgar pulled the blade from his pocket and slid it across the boy’s exposed neck veins.  He was dead within seconds.

Now, years later, Edgar was more experienced and able to do so much more than he could have ever imagined.  He had never lost his creativity.  There were always so many things to play with, so many ways to create beautiful works of art to showcase the beauty of death, and if he lived to be a hundred he would never find them all.

He ate his second apple and finished the rest of the cold soup, then closed his eyes peacefully and fell asleep, knowing that he would need his strength for what was in store for the next night.  When he awoke it would be Monday, which meant Susan Robinson’s family would leave and her lover would return, and Edgar could collect the final tool for his upcoming art project.


He awoke many hours later feeling rested and relaxed.  When he was younger and less experienced, he would awake from such a slumber and experience a moment of disorientation, not knowing where he was or why he was there, but now, because he’d done this a considerable amount of times, he woke up with complete and total alertness.

Footsteps in the bedroom below told him that every member had left the house except for Susan who was now pacing around the room with a nervous excitement.  Had she noticed the missing corkscrew?  He couldn’t tell.  Considering the occasion, Edgar assumed she had noticed it missing, which meant that she would now be alert and on edge.  She may even suggest to the man that their affair end because she thinks her husband suspects something, but Edgar knew that the man wouldn’t take no for an answer.  The passion Edgar had seen in the man’s eyes when he’d witnessed the affair was a violent and fiery one, and if Susan was to try to snuff that passion out, she would end up burned.  He suspected she knew that, which was why, when Edgar heard the engine of the yellow Cadillac approach the house then shut off, he pricked up his ears so that he could hear every last interaction between the two lovers.  It was sure to be an interesting experience for everyone.

Susan’s footsteps paused momentarily, then exited the room and went downstairs.  The man never had to knock on the door or ring the doorbell; Susan was always ready and waiting for him.

The man stepped into the house and Edgar heard the sound of expensive penny loafers click atop the wooden floorboards of the hallway, then muffle as the man stepped onto carpet.  The two pairs of footsteps went upstairs, Susan’s in the lead, without a spoken word.  Nothing was said until the couple reached the bedroom, not bothering to latch the door behind them but leaving it ajar – perfect for Edgar’s plan.

When words between them were finally exchanged, Susan’s voice was nervous and shaky, but the man didn’t notice or didn’t care.  She told him she was worried that Richard had discovered their secret because the corkscrew she had put in her nightstand was missing.  The man embraced her and Edgar put his ear hard against the floorboards of the attic so he could hear, very faintly, the rustle of the black silk of Susan’s dress beneath the man’s hands.

The man kissed Susan, who protested at first, claiming that her husband could be back any second and telling him that it might be a good idea to discontinue their encounters for a few weeks, but then eventually gave in to his advances and a torrent of rustling garments then ensued.

Edgar stood up and crossed the attic, knowing that he would have at least thirty minutes – half of the time the couple normally took – to do what he needed to do, but he only needed five or so.  He pushed the stairs down softly and stepped down them for the last time before his big finale.  He hunched over, staying as low to the ground as possible to avoid being seen, and stood next to the door outside the bedroom.  

He waited there for five minutes for the couple to fall further and further into each other and out of their surroundings.  He listened for the moment he knew they were completely engulfed in their own reality and he could step into the room and find what he needed.  When the time came, he silently opened the door enough for his slim body to fit and skulked into the room.

The floor was littered with garments, but he only needed one, which he knew would be closest to where they had stopped to talk.  Edgar found the spot, which was marked with the man’s white, button-up shirt, and lifted the shirt to reveal a black, silk necktie – the man’s trademark accessory.  He took the necktie in his cold, white hand and left the room to return back to his place in the attic.

A half-hour later, just as Edgar predicted, Susan and her lover were dressing themselves again.  Another fifteen minutes was spent searching for the missing tie that Edgar had stolen and was now absentmindedly tying it in knots as he listened to the scene.  Eventually, the man gave up and left Susan with a lie about how he’d received an email on his cell phone that he needed to address immediately back at his office.

Susan then spent the rest of the time that her family was away taking apart her bedroom piece by piece looking for the tie.  When she couldn’t find it, a string of obscenities exploded from her lips about the man, who she identified as Theo, taking the tie with him just to spite her.   When her rant had finished,  she put the room back together, composed herself by taking a shower, then made chocolate chip cookies until Tyson and Mary arrived home from school.  By that time Edgar had fallen asleep again, trying to get as much rest as he could for what he knew would be an eventful night.


Edgar awoke just as the Robinson family was retiring to their beds.  He stood up and stretched his muscles, ate his last apple, and even did a series of push-ups to prepare his body for what may or may not be a physically strenuous activity.  Although it often required less energy than he’d anticipated, he knew he could never been too prepared.

He stood in the darkness for hours, waiting for the family to reach a deep level of sleep.  He stared at the red mercury in the thermometer while it slowly slipped to fifty degrees and the hands on his watch moved slowly around the face.  He waited until five minutes before three in the morning, then he gathered his things – the clothes, the apple cores, the empty bowl of soup and carton of orange juice, the tie, the corkscrew, the thermometer, the pocket knife and the paperclip – and left the attic for what would be the last time.

First, he went into the kitchen and put the empty bowl in the sink and the apple cores and carton in the garbage.  He also grabbed a chocolate chip cookie that had been left on the wire cooling rack and devoured it hungrily.

Taking the pile of objects into the hallway, he placed the thermometer and clothes on the floor by the door and pocketed the other items.  He then turned around on his heels and located every phone in the house and used the blade from the pocket knife to sever the cables – he couldn’t have any third parties interrupting his masterpiece.

When he had finished with the phones and locked all the doors and windows, he entered Tyson’s room.  The dark-haired boy slept peacefully on his stomach, just as he had on Edgar’s first night in the house.  Edgar took a minute to experience the moment.  This moment was the reason he did what he did.  For the next hour, there would be an energy about the house that none but those inside could understand.  There would be the energy of life and death and the struggle between the two as they fight for power.  Death would win, it always did with Edgar on its side, but life always put up a glorious fight.

Edgar silently crossed the room and removed the mace from its hooks.  He tested the sharpness, once again, with his thumb, then turned and stood next to Tyson’s bed.  Leaning forward, Edgar put his face by the boy’s, staring at him curiously as if this was the first time he had ever seen life other than his own.  He inhaled just as the boy exhaled so that he could steal the last few breaths of Tyson’s life.  He thought that the last part of life that clung to his victims just as he was administering the final blows was manifested in that final breath, and by inhaling it Edgar was somehow taking part of their life, the best part, to become one with his.  

Edgar lifted the mace, held his breath, then brought it down hard on the young boy’s skull.  Blood, grey matter, and bone splashed into his face, but he paid no attention.  Tyson released one final, shallow breath, which Edgar took in, held, then released in a great and powerful exhale.

His body was filled with a strange, numb, tingling sensation – that was Edgar’s drug of choice.  Wanting to maintain this elation, he quickly moved onto the next room, Mary’s room, to continue his massacre.

Mary slept on her side in the fetal position, clinging to a pillow; she was having a bad dream that was about to get much worse.  Edgar moved toward the girl, then rested a hand on her shoulder.  When she didn’t wake, he pulled on her so she was flat on her back.  This woke up the sixteen-year-old, but she was too disoriented to stop Edgar from mounting the bed and placing his knees on her shoulders, just like he had done with the boy that had nearly ended his life.

The girl’s eyes widened with fear and she let out a faint scream that was cut short when Edgar’s thin, yet powerful hands clamped on her neck, damming her airway.  Her legs kicked and her arms flew wildly, attempting to grab at him, but she was no match for his powerful strength.  Soon, her extremities began to slow, then her body seized three times while her brain fired off its final signals, like the final gunshots of a revolutionary battle. When she finally went limp and the light in her eyes faded, Edgar leaned over, put his lips to hers, and sucked in her final breath, then released his hold on her neck.  He could feel her life inside his body, and again the tingling sensation took over, even more powerful than the last.

When he finished, he hastily left the room and went up the stairs to the master bedroom to retrieve the final lives and tip the scale in death’s favor.

He entered the bedroom where Susan and Richard slept and went to Richard’s nightstand where the handgun was kept.  He checked the gun for ammo, then held it to Richard’s head and pulled the trigger.  The gun made a loud snapping sound and blood and fragments of bone painted the pillow, sheets, and part of the wall by Richard’s head.  Edgar didn’t bother stealing this man’s breath, as he thought it was useless.  He had perceived Richard as a weak man, one that couldn’t even please his wife enough to earn her faithfulness, and this quality was one that Edgar didn’t care to feel in his blood.  Instead, he turned to Susan who had jumped awake at the sound of the gunshot and had fallen out of bed.

Edgar calmly walked around the bed to where Susan had started to scream, realizing what was happening.  He quickly pulled the tie from his pocket and wrapped it around her mouth to stifle the high pitched whine of the soon to be dead woman.  She kicked and hit him but he still managed to tie the tie tight enough to stop her from screaming.

“Were you looking for these?” Edgar hissed in her ear, referring to the tie and the corkscrew that he was now extracting from his pocket.  “You’ve been very naughty.”  He held the metal tool up to her face, which caused a violent torrent of muffled screams and kicking and punching, but Edgar maintained his dominance and forced her to remain on the ground with his body weight.

“The beauty,” he continued, “is in the sin, the disloyalty, itself.  I’m not punishing you, no.  I’m celebrating you, or rather, what you do.”  Her eyes widened.  “I think that human desire is one of the most beautiful and ugly things that has ever existed.  We all have desires and passions, your husband, your children, which is why I have taken their lives – to celebrate this passion and make it my own.”  He tapped her forehead with the corkscrew.  “But you gave into this desire.  You gave into the sin.  This is why you’re special, because the greatest flaw of the human condition is the inability to please ourselves.  We, or rather they, are constantly telling themselves ‘no.’  Not us.  We are the ones who tell ourselves ‘yes.’   This is why I want a part of you to stay with me for the rest of my life.”

He took the corkscrew in one hand and turned her head with the other, exposing the veins in her neck.  The jugular vein, his favorite, was pulsing violently with the harsh beating of her fearful heart.  He put the tip of the screw onto her skin, then pushed it in and twisted.  Susan howled in pain through the tie gag and blood poured through the life-sustaining vain.  When the corkscrew had penetrated far enough, he pulled it out, then lowered his head to her neck and extended his tongue into the hole that was now gushing blood and began to lap up the liquid like a baby sucking its mother’s milk from a bottle.

He did this until he could feel Susan’s heart stop beating and the blood stop pulsing through Susan’s neck.  When this happened, he stood up, wiped the mess from his chin, and left the room.

He used the camera in Mary’s phone to take a photograph of each of his victims, which he would print out at home and frame on his wall among his other art projects.  When finished, he removed the memory card from the phone and pocketed it.

Edgar walked around the house once more so that he could recall every last detail when he so wished.  It would be months until his next vacation, and he would need to survive on memories and photographs for the time being.  When he was finished, he picked the pile of clothes up from the floor, pocketed the thermometer, and left through the front door.

He looked at his watch; it was four in the morning now.  He had four hours until he needed to be at work, which meant he had just enough time to drive home, shower, and eat a decent meal.  If he was lucky, maybe he’d even have time to print out his pictures before he had to leave, but he doubted it – he would do that after.  He would likely have to make his daughter lunch for school, which would take priority of his photographs for the time being.

Walking down the familiar streets he’d mapped out for the route back to his truck, with the moon slowly creeping down the west horizon, he thought of his job, his wife, and his daughter – the life he’d learn to lead alongside his secret hobby, and how he couldn’t wait to see them again after his long, three-day vacation.


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