I Am Two Steps Behind

June 4, 2010
The air is humid, but he can feel the taste of it on his lips. His arm is weighed down by what he carries. Death. But no one will catch him. No one will know. He is like poison that someone slips into your drink. Lethal. The door is open for him. He walks like thick smoke into the room. He mixes with the humid air. She is sleeping. He is disappointed. He wanted to see the light go out. The fear, then everything slip from her face like water. This is his drug. No one's ever caught him.
He drags his arm up, with the blade sharp and clean. Rustles of the sheets. Eyes open. He brings up the knife.
"Too late, darling." He hisses. It comes down fast. Her face is a mask of fear, real fear. He wipes the red on his pants from the blade. Red water drips and stains the white sheets a rich, deep scarlet. He lets her drag herself slowly out of the house. Let her die slow, it's a better show that way. Then he picks up her phone and dials 911. Let them get a head start, they'll never find him.

Rings echo off the walls of the Cleveland Police Department. Nikki Barker rushes to pick up the phone, her wavy blond hair following her as she rushes to the phone. Another one. Someone has gone missing, supposedly. She's so sick of this, she wants to be on top. She could be on top, if she wasn't young, a girl, and hadn't screwed up. But that's how life goes. So she shows up each day, praying, for another chance.
"BARKER! What is it now?!" Shouts Lieutenant Griffin. Time for another intervention.

Ramona struggled to breath. Her lungs were thick and clotted with blood, red was coming up from her stomach and, of course, her stab wound.Dizzying, as she tried to get in her car, fumbling for the keys, her mind and eyesight blurring,going in and out.She was full of fear and adrenaline, or she used to be, now she's just dying, slowly, yet too quickly. She looks up to the fear. He stands above,mocking her by watching her eyes glaze over. She was scared at first, but now she just wants to die. She just wants to see death pick her soul up and sweep it away somewhere better. She can't breathe. She is so scared. Then she closes her eyes.

Nikki is with Ramona's brother. He is so scared and nervous, she can see it painted on his face. No masks. Just pure fear. They had looked in her house,where there was blood smeared like someone had dragged her out of the house. everywhere he could think of. Nikki was getting sick of missing things. Especially people. Now they were down the road from a parking lot in the middle of nowhere.
"Hey Mr. Wilczewski, why don't we just pull over for a little and think on where she could be, okay?" She had to drip sweet words into the conversation, he was already scared half to death, no point in making matters worse by acting authoritative.
"I just don't know where she could be, she wouldn't go off without her cell phone on, and not tell anyone! Something has to be wrong, and I feel sick. You can call me Greg too" Sweat glistened in the sun on his skin. He wasn't handling the situation with grace. But no one ever will.
"Well, we will pull over and just take some time to think on it, okay?" She started to turn the car into the lot. She stared at the steering wheel once they were parked.
" Are you okay?" He looked like vomit was waiting for the right time to come up his throat.
" I think I'm going to be sick-" He rushed out the door of the car, and reeled over. Nikki sat there, staying as calm as she could. She kept staring at the steering wheel.
" Her car!" He stood up too quickly, and stepped to the side, almost falling over. She picked up her phone. 9-1-1, and talk.
"Hello? Yes, there's Ramona Krotine's Toyota Camry sitting in a parking lot off Parker Rd. She's been missing for.." a glance at the clock," 3 hours. Please send the police."She snapped the phone shut and sprinted over to Greg's side. He had picked up a pipe wrench now.
"Hey, wait!" She tried to grab the wrench. The glass shattered like beautifully horrific snowflakes. He grabbed the lock on the inside of the door, and yanked up. She could see his muscles shaking, he was to anxious and paranoid.
" You're contaminating this evidence! You can't do that!" Too late, he had gotten the door open. She saw it. All of it. The blood, all over the car seats. Her body, limp, mangled on the back seat. Shoved in like, she didn't even know. This was way better than finding someone alive.

He is sitting next to the knife. He wants more. But he can't. He is death, and death is too smart to do something dumb. So he sits. And he schemes, because this will not be the last of him.

Nikki is back at the Police Department, piecing together the thoughts, the evidence. She has to get it right this time. She has to find the killer. And the evidence is pointing right to someone in Ramona's home.
" Rob, can you come here?" her voice sounds hallow down the hallway. Her partner gets up slowly and trudges down the hall.
" What do you want Nik?" The slight gray hairs stick out in the sunlight from where he stands. Nikki looks back at the paperwork and pictures.
" Do you think her husband did it?" She has a questioning tone, but already knows the correct answer.
" Possibly," he glances over her shoulder at the scattered mess of sheets. " Well, there's evidence proving that he could have done it. You wanna go look in their house, or interview him?"
She didn't want to do any of that. She had already been on this case for two weeks. Time was ticking and she was wasting it. Lieutenant Griffin believed it was her husband, but Nikki's gut was telling the otherwise.
" Yeah, let's go." She grabbed her coat and clacked her high heels down the hallway, Rob following her like a puppy.

"Mr. Krotine, we need you to tell us your exact location at 12: 18." The words drip like acid off of her tongue. There's a certain sting to them he can't quite point out. He shivers, but the air is groggy and hot. Take a breath.
" I was with my daughter at her soccer game."
She seemed slightly relieved. Then her partner spoke," But we looked up the schedules of your daughter's games, and there was never one on that day." His face is set. He knows something.
"Did I say games? I meant practice."
"Sir, I'm sorry but you're very bad at lying." The man says.
"I'm under a lot of pressure."
The woman seems almost fed up,"Excuse me, but if you're not going to help us find your wife's killer, we can tell the police you are a prime suspect. We don't have time for games Mr. Krotine." She starts to get up.
"Wait! I -I have a family that I love. I loved my wife. It's just hard." He slouches in his chair like the weight on his shoulders is too heavy to bear anymore.
" tell us the truth or I will have you arrested and convicted for first degree murder." She glares at him and takes her seat again.
He can't say anything. But he has to. " You want the truth?"

Death watches from the window. That man has just killed someone by telling them. Humans are so irrational. They just can't learn,can they? That's okay, their funeral.

Rob and Nikki got back to the police department with coffee in their hands. Rob looked especially depressed, and Nikki's wheels in her mind were still turning on how it could work like that. Ramona's husband had said that he had been threatened, but he didn't know who it was. What if he was lying?
"Rob, look up his criminal record and call up CSI to check out their house one more time for footprints or fingerprints." Nikki walked into Lieutenant Griffin's office.
" So what was the point of that Barker?" He looked up at her with sarcasm floating in the space between them.
"I'm not sure he did it. I don't want to arrest the wrong person, do you griffin?" Her sharp ice blue eyes bore into him as his deep chocolate ones gaze angrily back. He leaned back, eyes still on hers." We'll the autopsy will come in tomorrow, and then we'll see who gets arrested, won't we?" The autopsy. Nikki had forgotten. Crap.

"Are you ready?" He shouted up the stairs. His wife walked down in a black dress chunky jewelry and her hair was curled. Gorgeous. He reached for her arm and tucked it into his. They walked out of the hotel and into the limo he ordered. He was going to propose tonight. Once they were seated the driver turned around.
" If you would like wine it's in the mini fridge and chocolates are on the table." The man smiled genuinely and turned back around. Justin looked surprisingly at his wife. They never had service like this before. He took a the wine out, and poured her and himself a glass. Then they drank.

Rob glanced at her as she walked into work the third time today. She motioned for him to follow her into her office. Her took his seat cautiously and looked up at her. She could see the question, the uncertainty hang from his lips loosely and the air was filled with thick silence that made it hard for her to breathe.
" I know what you think, but I believe he didn't do it. I'm sorry Rob." Her hands were glistening with the pressure of the situation, and she wiped them on her pencil skirt.
Rob looked defeated," Griffin will fire you. You're already walking on a tightrope with what you did last time. I hated stapling paper and helping people find family members that were missing."
She knew the consequences that hung mockingly in her face like strands of hair blocking her vision, but something from the evidence wasn't right.
"Are you going to tell him? Because I can't lose this job. It's all I have." He looked at her expectantly.
" But you know that the evidence doesn't clearly pin him. The autopsy might have brought up some finger prints, but there was nothing in the house. I can't frame her husband for something he didn't do. I won't." She stood up out of anger and confusion.
He too stood up, but not suddenly, and that stopped her. The space between them was black and purple, a bruise. She walked out of the room, down the hallway, emptiness echoing off the walls.

The limo was pulled over suddenly. Justin looked out the window.

" Excuse me? are we there yet?" His wife asked the driver. The driver pulled over and looked back.
"Actually yes you are. Have a good honeymoon." Suddenly he pulled out a gun and Justin could hear his girlfriend gasp. He could feel the pressure of the gun exploding.
Then the bullet came out.

Nikki was watching from her car as they went in to arrest Ramona's husband. He was being dragged out, handcuffed. She couldn't take the sight of this, the disgust was building up in her throat like flem when you run too much. She drove back to the police station, one last time.

Death walked out of the limo and took off the mask. He could just throw it here, it would make everything more interesting. But it would also be too easy for the cops. He wanted to see them struggle like fish out of water. He wanted them to fear him.
So he gripped the mask tighter and, instead, threw down the gun. He hated guns. Knives were his specialty, because guns were too quick. But that was okay, because he was back, and they would never catch him, unless he wanted them to. He got in the limo and drove it back down the road, back to the hotel, and parked it in the parking lot. He also loved parking lots.
He walked away, and dialed 9-1-1. Give them a head start.

Nikki had just finished packing all of her belongings from her office into the cardboard boxes. The phone rang.
" Hello, Cleveland Police Department." She almost sighed, but was too discouraged to even try.
On the other end, she was told that Ramona's son had been killed, with his girlfriend.
The killer was still out there.

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