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Have you ever felt the reassuring weight of a gun in your hand? Have you ever heard it click when you cock it and aim it in the face of a stranger? Have you ever felt the adrenaline rush when hear the fire of a bullet?
I have and I am addicted to it.
It is the one thing I cannot resist – when someone offers me a gun, I will take and I will kill. Probably some strange person who is in a dark alley way, or perhaps a girl who looks so thin she will fall over. The city is big and I will spend the whole night searching for my victim so I can kill her.
My first victim was my father.
I killed him when he was beating up my mother. This was a normal occasion, he often did it, but tonight, my mother had lost her rag and had drawn out the gun from the drawer. Before she could shoot though my father had knocked the gun out of her hand and sent it flying across the room.
Right at my feet.
I picked it up and felt the power of the cold metal. I knew how to use it, Phil had showed me. I picked it up and aimed. I cocked it and shot.
The bullet went wide and killed my mother, but a second one followed which killed my father.
I was terrified, and started shivering, but then Phil found me. He shushed me, put the gun into my father’s hands and he took me away.
I was just nine years old.
I was supposed to change my name; it was what one did, when running from the law but I begged Phil until he let me stay Alice.
The police never found me, though they did look. And I grew up learning how to shoot properly so the next time I cocked a gun I would be able to kill my target.
I hold the cold metal to the nape of her neck, not looking at her. She’s whimpering, like a dog, for mercy, but her whimpering is like pleas for death to my deaf ears. Her hair is thick and brown; it reminds me of my mother’s. Yet that isn’t my motive for her death.
I kill her because I want to. I have no motive. I am a heartless killer.
I am Alice and I’m not afraid of anyone – not the police, not my victims and not myself.
Even Phil is afraid of me now. He doesn’t know who or what I am. I bet he wishes I didn’t love him like a brother – though that is the only reason he is not yet dead.
She is young and beautiful and her coat was from Zara, hinting at money. But I didn’t select her because of that. She was just walking home. And now she was under a street light, in the limelight, yet there’s no one to watch.
“Why me?” she stutters, and this time I hear her. She’s been repeating it for some time, her voice becoming stronger every second I don’t shoot.
But I am not withholding my shot because I doubt my decision. This anticipation is almost as good as feeling her body drain of life, because while she grows more confident, her death ticks nearer and nearer, and then it looms above her, and she’s dead.
The shot is loud in the deserted street and I know neighbours will wake and look outside their windows, where they will see a girl in a ruined Zara jacket.
And a fifteen year-old-girl with dark hair and a cold metal gun.
A gun that tastes of a hundred girls and a girl who is so scared of herself she kills others to expel the fear.
But I was born into this life for a reason, and this is my destiny, to prove to the world that the threats come not from Muslims in Saudi Arabia, but from inside the very heart of the country, from the one child that was forgotten about.
The gun shot still echoes in my ears as I board the train, entering the stream of normality which weaves like a current around me. The night is cold and I draw my coat around me, shivering into it. Snow falls are expected, or so it is boasted on any radio station. I love all forms of precipitation, they either wash away or highlight my victims’ blood, and both make a brilliant memory for me.
When every one of your actions is fuelled by an anger at a whole population you learn to be cruel. I learnt the only way to control or release my anger was to keep a gun in the pocket of my grey coat at all times.
When I come home Phil is cooking. Since my urges to harm and kill people had begun, Phil had felt that it must be a plea for attention. He was scared to report me as he had a drug record and identity theft warnings and if it was proven he was living under a false name it would mean up to twenty years imprisonment.
So Phil had tried to establish a good home for me to come to, a comfort zone and a loving parent in place. He and the analyst he made me see once both thought I have a deep set frustration and anger which could be cured by a loving parent.
I scoffed at the diagnoses, but really I didn’t mind coming home to shepherd’s pie and roast beef instead of pot noodles and cheap pizza.
It’s almost eight o’clock when I stumble in, welcomed by the smell of warm soup and burnt bread. Phil is in the kitchen, trying to fight the urge to ask me where I have been since four, which was when school finished. He doesn’t want to know I had been shadowing a girl who I ended up killing.
I turn around to hang my coat on the door. He sees the gun sticking from my jeans when I hang up my jacket and I can almost taste the atmosphere in the room turn from worry to fear. The same fear that had made me kill a girl. A fear that was almost as attractive as my gun, its cold metal now sharing my body heat. I turn to face Phil slowly.
His fear is not obvious in his face, but my practice makes it obvious; the slightly accelerated breathing, the sweaty palms and the lowered face. I smile, but compose myself when Phil looks up.
And then the Alice I once used to be is gone. The look from Phil, full of hidden fear, makes me shed the skin I once possessed. I am new, I am different and I am lethal. I pick up one of the knives strewn around the kitchen and caress it carefully.
Knives are like fire. Treat them with respect and they will play with you, do your bidding and love you. Disrespect them or let them play with the wrong toys and they will turn on you.
“How is the public responding to the serial killer?” I ask Phil, all too aware that we both knew who she is.
“Another body was found this evening. That’s the twenty-first in three years.” I roll my eyes. Three of those hadn’t been mine. They were drowned, but to try and keep minimum panic the police blamed a totally different crime on me.
“They believe it’s a male paedophile though. All” he paused, “her victims have been female and under the age of twenty.” I grin and when he looks up, I start slowly walking around the island in the kitchen to face Phil, knife still in hand.
“Alice?” My name was a question, like the ones he asked me every morning. Would you like some cereal? Toast? Sugar in your tea?
But there is fear in the question, a fear that lets me relish the kitchen utensil in my hand. A fear that seems to delight my taste buds, like a delicious treat.
“Don’t.” We both knew the mistake in the word, an iron warning against the knife caressing my hands and the gun in my jeans.
I reach into Phil’s pocket a draw out a mobile phone. “Who’s on your speed dial, Phillip?” I ask, pressing the number. 911 comes up on the screen. I stop the call before it had finds a connection from our house, but Phil sees my point.
His silence looms over him, and the longer we stand in silence the more patient I become, the more ready I am to fight. My lunge is totally unexpected though, triggered by neither of us, but simply the last shred of Alice falling the ground, giving birth to me.
“What are you?” he whispers and I smiled, gleefully answering the question by holding my knife closer to his neck.
“A girl with too much anger.” I don’t cut him. I drop the knife, see the hope in his eyes, steep back and shoot him in the neck, as I have done eighteen other times. I examine Phil’s crumpled body, looked into the sky and whispered. “Mother, please, forgive me.” I unwind a rosary from around my neck and throw it on Phil’s body, regarding the mess on the floor with distain before leaving the kitchen.