Book 1, Chapter 31

It was a very small apartment, much to Greg’s displeasure. Slightly wider than it was long, the almost square room housed all the necessities in one open area. What passed for a kitchen was hardly more than a sink and short countertop with a tiny fridge crammed underneath. The adjoining living space boasted a handsome fold out couch for guests and a small desk area with a terminal flickering in the corner, leaving just enough room for the full sized bed and dining table with seating for two. While he assumed such a place had its novel appeal to those with simple needs, to him it was a cell that offered little privacy from an open door. There was no need to curse his lack of foresight in creating the large stain in the visible area on the floor, though; the Others did that quiet well for him with their jeers and endless chatter. Oh, to be able to shock them into submission again....

Sitting on the bed, arms resting against his bent knees, Greg stared at the wall in blank contemplation. His nerves felt on fire, his body tense and ready for anything but the silence and stillness of his sanctuary. He needed the kill again, needed to feel the power that came from having total and sole control of someone's life and well being. The woman had been a quick, impulsive kill. There had been no time to play with her, no time to make her beg for death, no time to fully drink in her despair. He had needed her silent to have her home as his and now there was nothing. Even the freezer was too small to properly store her flesh. Instead it took several trips to the ice machine and a tub mixed with salt to preserve what he had. He counted himself lucky the bathroom was at least separated from the room, a door keeping prying eyes from peeking in at the macabre scene inside.

It would not last, though. Once the meat was gone, what then? He would have to strike again and it would have to be just as impulsive. He despised the thought. His narrowed eyes bored into the sunshine yellow walls. It was not fair to make him give up his precious pets and play things. He deserved the time and pleasure of perfecting them, instead of being forced to simply kill and butcher his food as every other human animal did. His was a love affair, not a slaughter; it required time. Thinking back to the golden days of his obsession, Greg smiled thinly. At least his Cherry was still alive somewhere. They may have taken Lucky away, but he would always have Cherry.

All the same, he needed another. Alone was never something he liked to be and in some ways, the word was not at all accurate to truly describe his situation. The voices, which never allowed him rest, continued to clamor in his mind; the Others whispered things he'd never questioned and filled his thoughts with trivia and criticism.

Greg had never been fond of their chattering, which was incessant and rarely interesting. Hearing voices was too easy an excuse for madness and though he had never contested his lack of sanity, to give the Others the credit for his mental condition was far too generous. They were not what made him kill--rather they seemed indifferent to the deaths he caused.

It was slaughter and murder that made them fell silent, though. They needed something new to observe and seldom had they seen brutality such as what he was capable of. They watched through his eyes and felt through his flesh what was vile and repulsive and carefully committed it to memory. Only when they could observe did they shut up and through his craft, Greg had found the means to preserve his internal solitude.

Externally, he loathed it. He needed a pet--something to mold and entertain himself with whenever the need arose. From his apartment, there was only one real window, though, and it looked out onto the alley. The alley itself opened up into another alley before opening onto a main road. It guarded him from prying eyes, but it also left him with little to observe, and certainly no prey in sight to stalk. The occasional garbage truck would pass through to collect the large canisters along the back wall, but other than that the alley was usually quiet and empty.

It was because of that fact that the metallic knock far below seemed odd. He paid it no mind until the knocking was greeted by a voice, and only then did he pull himself up from the soft mattress and walk to the window to check.

Below in the alley was a bicycle fitted for deliveries and a man chattering at the bottom of a stairwell that led under the building to the basement. Within minutes of him peering out, Greg watched as someone emerged from the basement to accept the deliveryman's parcels. Even several floors up, Greg could recognize some markings on the boxes; some were marked perishables, most likely foodstuffs, and others marked fragile. It seemed much more like a residential type delivery than commercial one, if only due to the relatively small number of packages. Whether someone worked or lived behind the back alley doorway was of little consequence, though. Secluded, with an extremely low chance of being observed, the occupant had just made the top of his short list.

The mentally disturbed cartographer who aided in the devastation of peace talks between the Eastern and the Gaigulosian Empires.

Greg ignored the Others, focused on his prey. He was quite a bit shorter than Greg--a helpful advantage in carrying one’s prize away--and he looked fit enough to put up a decent fight. That was not a deterrent; the cannibal smiled and looked forward to the challenge.

An islander. A foreigner. Witnessed the execution of a crown prince. Dined on crab purchased with the blood and flesh of the dignitaries. Died at sea, they continued. Their knowledge was limited, however. Their hosts had not followed where this soul had come and gone. They rejoiced at the prospect of adding more to their collective memory on the fate of someone so instrumental and yet so insignificant to the making of history.

Greg kept watch at the window, waiting to see when the man left for home, if he left at all. It would not be long before he had a new pet to play with. He sat and waited, watched and listened to the wind howling through the narrow passage between the two buildings. No, it would not be long at all.

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