Hiding Among the Clovers This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

Chapter 1:
I need to hide them. My anxiety is getting to me. Maybe if I spread them around? Yeah. That could work. The blood. So much blood. The sticky sweet smell of the dark red liquid. Tastes like copper, and leaves stains on my clothes. I use the knife I had earlier to dismember my victim. I see lost posters everywhere now.
Help! $100 reward for whoever finds Fluffy! Or Call the number below if you find this cat.
They get so annoying. The constant noises and smells. All of those… things disgust me. The parts lie in front of me and I admire my job at a short distance. They are scattered across the floor. A head, one ear, the tail, the legs, and the heart. I gaze at it in wonder. How can something so small be so... important? I pick up the heart in my hand and move it around. It feels soft, like a raw steak. A laugh escapes my mouth and I smile at the thought of never hearing that animal bark again. Now, I have to lay the parts around town and hide the evidence. I smirk when I know exactly where to put the heart.
Less than an hour later, I stand outside the owner's house and place the heart right on their sidewalk. I walk off as the sun rises, whistling a simple tune.
Chapter 2:
I have never fit into regular social standards as a child. The only criteria I fit into is my own. I have always been alone with my thoughts and left to my own devices by my parents. My father and mother were kind and caring when I was a young child. Once I got older though, they changed, and not for the better. My father always came home drunk and wanting another beer. He would demand these things from my mother and hit her if she spoke back in the wrong tone of voice. He would always hit our pet dog, Red, because he believed that all pets were nuisances.
My mother was kind to Red and gave him treats whenever my father wasn't around. She was so nice, and I was so naive. She passed away when I was seven and I still miss her to this day. She taught me to clean up after myself and to never make messes, or she would be disappointed with me. I gained a few of her traits, however my father had the biggest influence for how I am today.
One day when he was working away from home, I thought it would be fun to play killer with Red. I took a knife from the kitchen and started chasing after my dog with it. I caught up to him after a while and stabbed him right in the neck. This feeling of satisfaction from seeing the dog so vulnerable came over me when I watched him struggle to breathe. I stared in fascination at how the blood dripped down Red's coat, staining him like his name.
My father came home from work and saw what I had done. He looked at me and gave me a smile that I have adopted as my own. I will never forget the words he said to me as he pat my back in approval.
"Son, you are what the world has needed. You might be hidden in this world of...plain clovers. But you, Clove, are a four leafed one." He finished off the statement by messing up my unruly hair.
    I never understood what he meant by that, and I still-
    "Hey! Watch where you're going!"
I shake my head from my thoughts and look at the person before me. Her hair is long and wavy. A nice shade of brown. Small highlights are fixed throughout. She looks at me in slight irritation.
     "O-oh I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to bump into you Miss...I got lost in my thoughts" I said.
"Doesn't matter, I wasn't paying attention either. My name is Abigail," she says.
I smile at her.
Her bright blue eyes hold innocence yet conceal something that makes me automatically intrigued. She sighs and shakes her head, laughing at herself.
"I'm sorry for bumping into you," she says.
"I'm not," I state happily.
I don't know why or how but I feel a strong pull towards this woman. A very strong connection. The type of connection my mother always hoped for me to find as I got older. I wonder what her hair would look like if it were covered in blood. I shake my head, not letting my other side take over any of this great feeling.
"Well, it was nice meeting you," she says as she turns to walk away, her brown hair shimmering in the sunlight.
"What about the next time we bump into each other? Do you want to maybe get coffee sometime?" I ask hopefully.
She laughs, "I don't drink coffee, I drink tea."
I look down at the ground, unable to meet her gaze. I should have never asked her in the first place.
"But, if we do meet again, then yes I'll go out to breakfast with you instead," she says with a wide grin and I lift my head in time to see her walking away.
Chapter 3:
The white picket fences frame every yard. Perfect, porcelain and peaceful. The houses lined up, one right after the next. Different colors expressing the different families living there. Each one with a small front porch and hangover. The Craftsman houses lined up almost perfectly. Almost. A fence post here, a slight chipping on one of the houses, or a dead bush in front of the front stoop. All these things hint at the slightest signs of imperfection. My house however, has the greenest grass, the newest paint, beautiful flowers, and I spend every week and weekend taking care of my property.
I reach the front gate of my home. Light green and standing proud. I mindlessly grab my keys and walk in. That girl is still on my mind. I can't think of anything but her: brown hair as dark as the coffee I spilled this morning. Her brilliant blue eyes sparkling and beholding mysteries I would like to know. Her skin is smooth and tan. She has small freckles dotting her face, all across her nose and cheeks. The way she dressed looked so clean, yet playful. A red scarf around her neck. Black glasses perched on her nose. Her hair in a messy bun, some strands hanging loose to frame her face. She wore a simple blue jean jacket with a white shirt. Black leggings and tall tan boots.
She carried a backpack. Is she a student? Or was she simply going from point A to B?
I make myself nice sandwich squares in the kitchen as these thoughts of her run through my mind. I wonder if I'll ever see her again.

Chapter 4:
I wake up to barking. Stupid mutt. I should have handled that animal earlier. I slipped out of bed and into my slippers. Cursing, I quickly change into decent clothes. The same ones I use all the time for these events. I glance out my back window and see this thing in the backyard. Why didn't I notice that my own neighbors had a dog? Disgusting creatures.
Once in the kitchen, I grab my favorite knife and head out the back door. I stomp across the back of my yard, across my nice pristine grass, towards the fence separating the two properties.
I quickly scale the fence and grab the beast by the collar. It struggles for a bit until I throw it on the ground. It's whimpers satisfy me. I fling it's body over the fence onto my property and drag it into the house while it is still knocked out. I work quickly, taking the body and dismembering it on the floor of the kitchen. Blood is everywhere and I let out a sigh once the thing is fully dead. I stare in disgust at the creature and quickly become disgusted with what is all over me. The blood of the filthy animal is probably getting under my skin and into my floor as I stand here.
I grab a bag and shove the remains into it and grab cleaning supplies. I scrub the tile floors of the kitchen and everywhere else that there was blood. I scrub and scrub until my arms hurt from the amount of cleaning, and my eyes burn from the bleach.
I look down at myself and cringe when I see the blood. My mother would be disappointed that I made a mess of myself. I throw all of the cleaning supplies in the trash and run upstairs to take a much needed shower. I shrug off my clothes and climb under the boiling hot water. I take the bar of soap and wash away any germs. I scrape the bar across my skin until it's raw. Only when my skin is throbbing and fully red, do I feel clean. I put on pajamas and climb back into bed. I go to sleep satisfied without a single bark to wake me.
Chapter 5:
I wake up to peace and quiet. Finally.
Seeing as I don't have anything else to do today, I get ready for work. I iron my shirt and make sure my pants are clean. After shining my shoes, I put on my uniform.
As I get into my car, I hear a slight noise. Glancing out the passenger side window, I see a cat on top of it's owner's front gate. I cringe at the animal, disgusted by it's looks and behavior. Good for nothing fur ball. It yawns and stretches those disgusting gray front legs. I wish there were no more creatures like that to worry about. They ruin lives and they tear families apart. Just like mine.
I pull out of the driveway and begin the long haul to the inner city office building I work in. I work for a company most would call the devil's chambers. In reality, it's just an accounting firm. Not many people seem to like our company, even though we help people with their financials.
As I'm rounding the corner to go park in the garage opposite my work building, I see the girl from yesterday holding coffee and a book bag. Her brown hair is down today, flowing to about her mid back. She looks so beautiful.
I quickly park my car and get out, almost tripping on my own two feet trying to get to her before she's out of my sight. As she rounds the corner of my office building, I call out her name.
"Hey! Abigail!"
She turns in confusion and looks around. Her blue eyes eventually land on me, and a smile comes to her face.
"Oh hi Clove, how are you?" She asks, her voice gentle.
"I'm doing a lot better now. Uh... What brings you to this side of town?"
"I rent the apartment right above the coffee place. It's over a block or two."
"Really? I work right here," I say as I point up at the office building.
"Oh nice, well, I have to get going, class is starting soon," she says as she readjusts her beanie.
"You're a student?"
"Oh! Haha no, I teach at the nearby college. I was just in the suburbs visiting my mother. She's been so distraught lately because she can't find her cat. Strange isn't it?" She asks with genuine curiosity.
I stiffen a little at her words. "Haha yeah, weird... So, you teach? That's cool. Wait, I thought you said you drink tea?  Not coffee..."
She gives me a weird look but shrugs and starts to back away. "Yeah, I really need to get going, it was nice seeing you again!"
"Wait! Can I have your number? You promised next time we see each other that you'd give it to me," I ask hopefully.
She sighs and pulls out a card from her back pocket, "Here," she says before walking away with a slight smile.


Chapter 6:
I tap my foot in anticipation. Should I call her? I wonder if she would even want to talk to me. I sigh and run my hand through my jet black wavy locks, making it look as if I just got out of bed. I sit up and begin cleaning my house, scrubbing it once again from top to bottom. My mother taught me to always be a clean little boy. My father? He didn't care about messes.
I feel a pang of hurt at the thought of my mother. Her sweet green eyes with a dark brown outer ring. The same eyes I inherited. My father was the one with black hair, my mother had fiery red hair.  His eyes were dark and cruel. A tear slips down my cheek as I remember how things used to be. Before my father was a drunk, when my mother was still alive. Before I realized what my father did to those... beasts. Good riddance. Those disgusting creatures were never supposed to live.
Once I finish scrubbing down the house with all the bleach and cleaning chemicals I own, I slouch on my sofa. My phone starts ringing right as I sit. Groaning, I get up to check who it is.
I answer with a prompt "hello" and wait for a reply.
"Clove?" A soft feminine voice asks, the voice slightly shaking.
"Yes? And who is speaking?"
"It's me. Abigail. I need your help. Please come quick!"
"Woah, slow down. Where are you?"
"I'm at my mother's house, it's three doors down from you on the left. Hurry!"
I hear the line go dead. I stare at my phone in confusion before grabbing my coat and rushing out the door. I arrive at Abigail's mother's house less than five minutes later. I hear crying and immediately rush inside, since the door is wide open. I look around when I first step in and see Abigail lying next to what I assume to be her mother. The woman is lying still on the floor, blood around her head. Seeing the blood makes me crave the feeling of it between my fingers but I push it away. I sit next to Abigail and hold her close to me. She smells like cherries.
"I... I walked in a-and she... she was lying here in-in a pool of her own... b-b-blood," Abigail sobs in between each word.
I hug her and let her cry before asking, "Is she still alive? Did you check her pulse?"
"I-I called the ambulance already and then I found your number in the phonebook. Do you not remember giving me your business card last time we met? No?" she laughs awkwardly, before breaking down once more.
I vaguely recall her giving me her business card, not the other way around. Strange… I run a hand through her hair, attempting to soothe Abigail anyway I can, "help is on the way."
Chapter 7:
Abigail pulls away from the house in her car, her mother in the ambulance. I am left alone with a bloody floor and a cleaning bucket. The police already scoured the house from top to bottom and they collected the blood samples. Which left me cleaning up the whole crime scene.
I let out a breath and freeze when I remember the germs of Abigail. Her snot is probably all over me as well as her tears. I shudder at the thought and try to brush off the feeling of uneasiness. I don’t know where it’s coming from.
There is a scratching noise and I look around, not seeing anyone in the house. I hear it again, only this time it is louder and accompanied by a whimper. I look around the house and don’t see anything until I reach the bathroom. There is a scratching noise coming from the other side of the door.
“Hello? Anyone in there?” I ask, confused as to why there would be someone left in the house that wasn’t brought in for questioning.
I stiffen when I receive a bark in reply. Immediately, out of pure instinct, I race to the kitchen and grab the best knife I can. This beast, having the audacity to be here, when I didn’t notice. Disgusting creature.
I open the door to find a yorkshire terrier. I almost drop the knife and slide to the floor. Almost. This is the same breed of dog I owned growing up. The one that my father influenced me to kill. The same one my whole childhood revolved around protecting, up until I came up with that game, and look what came of it. A sudden wave of anger washes over me and I grab the disgusting creature by the neck. I look at it’s fear stricken eyes and smirk. How easy.
I slide my knife across the stomach and stop at the throat. Blood goes everywhere. The dog yelps and collapses in my hand, no longer breathing. Pitiful. I work on digging the heart out and separating the limbs one by one. I’m almost finished when I am interrupted by a gasp and the sound of glass breaking.
Chapter 8:
    I turn around slowly and see Abigail standing in the hallway, mouth agape. I open my mouth to say something but she speaks first.
    “They were right…” she says softly.
    I stare at her in confusion and quickly stand. The blood runs off my hands in seconds. I grin sheepishly and look down, seeing a glass of water. I look at her again, remembering her comment. “What do you mean by ‘they were right’?”
    She stares at me and looks at the scene. I should have checked if she was really gone, but I was just clouded by this hunger to get rid of the filthy animal.
    “The police. They said you were like this. I came to bring you a water and I come back to see the dog shredded to bits.”
    I shake my head and smile. “They’re wrong.”
    “No they weren’t. They hired me to discover if you were the local pet killer.”
    My eyes widen and I’m filled with confusion. I covered all of my tracks. How could they know? I was so safe and I even cleaned up after myself.
    “Impossible, they should have never known!” I exclaim.
    She chuckled a little then looked me straight in the eyes. “They hired me, and as an actress, it’s my job to play the innocent victim to catch the criminal. I teach acting at the local college.” The police set this up. The woman that is in the ambulance is actually a dummy. This isn’t her mother’s house, and the police gave her my  number. The dog must have been slipped in from right under my nose when the police did the sweep throughout the house for any evidence. I was completely set up. Everything makes sense now.
    “I knew you were too good to be true…” I mutter to myself as I step closer to Abigail. She was a witness. No one can know what I did. Not even her. She’ll turn me in! “I’m sorry Abigail…”
    “That’s not my name actually… wait, what are you doing?! NO! Stop!!” Abigail yells as I try and take a slice at her. She keeps moving and dodging my strikes. Finally, one hits home.
    The knife is sticking right out of her heart and blood starts dripping from her mouth. Her eyes are wide in shock and I can visibly see the life from her beautiful crystalline blue eyes draining. Her body slumps to the ground with a sickening thud.
I cringe ever so slightly at the noise, but a sly smile comes to my face. What have I done? Did I just do that and enjoy it? I haven’t felt like this since my first animal kill, and it feels great. It feels new and different. An amazing feeling. 
    Sirens wail in close proximity to the house, and I still stand there with a sick smile on my lips. I can’t seem to move as I stare at Abigail’s body. She looks as if she is sleeping. I finally put her at peace.
    Police storm the house, however I’m still too entranced by Abigail’s body to move at all. She looks so beautiful. Her brown hair laying across the ground, her body sprawled out at a weird angle. A masterpiece. One that I created. The police throw me onto the ground and put cuffs around my wrists. All I can do is laugh.
Chapter 9:
One month later in the police station. The deputy is lounging in his black rolling chair at his mahogany desk. Another officer barges into the room.
“Sir, excuse me, but we have a slight problem,” says the slightly nervous new officer. He just started last Tuesday. The poor guy doesn’t even realize what this career has in store.
“Yes, Officer Shea? Can I help you?” I ask, slightly annoyed that he interrupted my paperwork. I need to catch up on the previous month’s work. My wife had our second child, therefore, I had to stay by her side until she was healthy enough to leave the hospital. I was currently working on finishing up a case about a nut job who went around killing household pets for most of his life.
“Umm… Sir, we did attendance this morning, and there was one prisoner unaccounted for.”
I sit up straight in my chair, taking my feet off the desk. “Excuse me? Did you just say a prisoner escaped?” I cannot believe these imbeciles work here.
“His name is Clove Sydney. He was the same man who committed all those pet murders?” The officer says tentatively.
    I stare at the file I have in front of me. This same man just escaped the local prison. I read the file:
Last name: Sydney    First name: Clove
Age: 35     Gender: Male
Reason convicted:
-Murdering over 100 household pets
-Murder of Abigail Waterson in the first degree
Medical Issues:
-Bipolar
-Schitsophrenia

 

“This guy is quite… insane,” I state to the officer before standing up and leaving the room. I gesture for him to follow me. I go over to the desk of my good friend and fellow coworker. He will more than likely be my successor after I retire in a year.
“Hello Officer Stevenson,” I greet blunty. I have no time to get into a conversation with him at the moment and I have a job that needs to be done, “I have a high priority assignment for you and I need a full report on my desk by tomorrow morning.”
Officer Stevenson nods curtly and begins to rally up other officers to go patrol the surrounding areas. Every officer goes to their cars and drive away, in search of this murderer. I need this guy off the streets before he commits another horrible crime. I sit down at my desk once again and sigh, running a hand through my peppered hair.
    The door to my office closes quickly, catching me off guard. I look at where the noise comes from and see the same man from the folder standing with a gun in his hand, the barrel pointing at me. The same man I just sent all of my officers out in town to go look for. Clove Sydney.






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