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Burning

Her arms quivered and her legs relentlessly struggled to escape the plastic zip ties that bound her to the metal rods of a medical gurney.   She tried to scream as liquid cement inched down a size six endotracheal tube and flooded her mouth, throat and trachea. Her last attempts at freedom were masked by the most terrifying yet brilliant sound in the world; a 1906 semi-automatic Alair lighter clicking on. I’ll leave you to guess what happened next.
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At no point in my 48 years of life had I ever questioned the extent of my insanity. While other children had tea parties and fashion shows with their dolls, I took pleasure in watching their smooth porcelain features slowly melt. I imagined the pain and the sorrow that the dolls felt. I imagined the screams of terror as they felt their nose, eyes, lips disintegrate upon their very body. I took joy in hearing the shrieks lessen for I knew, that at this point, the flame had reached their esophagus and was slowly burning holes in their trachea. During this entire process I stared into the doll’s eyes. it was easier to see the suffering that way. After all, your eyes are the window to your soul. Just as the doll’s eyes were starting to become cold and lifeless I would stop the flame. Most doll's eyes yelled out in pain and frustration; but every once in awhile you would find a doll whose eyes glimmered with hope, resilience and promise. Now at this point some may think me to be malevolent but trust me it is the most beautiful feeling in the world to watch the fragments of hope disintegrate piece by piece.


To the outside world I was completely normal, gregarious even. When I was 18 years old I attended my senior prom with a lovely girl, Petra was her name. I had met her at church one day. Right before communion she had recited a poem in the style of an iambic pentameter. Petra spoke with such rhetoric that I was automatically attracted. She was not even the slightest bit homely however she had a certain gravitas to her manner. Naturally when we were named prom king and queen she was ecstatic. On our first dance together, there was a beautiful ballad playing.  I looked into her eyes for the first time that evening. Lovely eyes. An ice cold blue colour , but warm enough to see a flicker of hope and light. I watched her eyes almost as intently and indiscreetly as I had watched all those dolls when I was younger. We left early that night. When we reached her house I stopped abruptly.  By the time that Petra turned around, you could already see the reflection of a singular flame and a dour but grinning face in those ice cold blue eyes of her.


I can only imagine what her parents must have thought when they returned from a business trip the next day to find their daughter sitting on their front porch, rather, what was left of their daughter. The third degree burns that now encrusted every inch of her body, had burned right through certain muscles and nerves; rendering her paralytic, partially blind and mute. Petra- fied if you will. I always did love a good play on words.


After high school I moved to California. I studied at Stanford University and graduated with a major in Chemical Engineering and a minor in Combustion. I went on to work as a pyrotechnician for a defense company in Silicon Valley.  I was persistently lonely at work. My only companion was a silky black raven that lingered on the windowsill outside my office. Every day followed a same routine. I woke up, went to work, listened to the picayune squabbling of my superiors and then return home. This pretty much repeated itself until a pristine woman, named Diana arrived. The first time I saw Diana’s face I was immediately drawn to her eyes. So much hope. So much light. On top of that, her eyes were an ice cold blue colour. An auspicious sign. You see it had been 11 years since the Petra “incident” and I longed to once again set fire to another soul. Let me rephrase that, it was not so much the fact that I loved to set people on fire but that I took delight in watching them burn.


I took it upon myself to create an elaborate scheme that nobody would ever know that it was I who murdered Diana. It took weeks to concoct such a brilliant plan. I arrived at work an half an hour earlier than I usually would. How coincidental that I would always arrive at the same time as Diana. I would made every effort to sit with her at lunch times so others would think that we were friends. Then, when the time was just right, I would make my move. I would call the police myself and play the part of the scared best friend. So perfect. So brilliant. Such a shame things don't always work out the way you anticipate.


All went as planned until I stopped her on the side of the road and took out a rather large lighter. She started to scream, too loudly. I had to think fast. Then I did the only logical thing that I could think of at that instant; I grabbed a portion of dirt from the ground next to me and I started to shove it down her throat. She staggered and fell to the ground, gagging on a gelatinous mush of coughed up blood, dirt, flames and a portion of the Halvah that she had eaten earlier.  I started to pour more and more dirt on top of her, soon everything was covered except a stunning porcelain face and chocolate coloured hair. It was almost as if she was a pingo; a large mound of soil covering an icy core.  I slowly corresed her hair.“Don't you worry my pretty, soon it will all be over” I whispered with crisp and clear diction. I listened as her breathing slowed. As a last attempt to live she let out an exasperated screech. With that I covered the rest of her face, leaving only the tiniest holes for a pair of glimmering ice cold blue eyes.


Despite the fact that the murders were rejuvenating my soul, I still felt an urge to do more, kill more, burn more. My mind kept returning to the imagery of the burning dolls. Why couldn’t I feel the level of satisfaction that I had felt when burning them. It took me several more assassinations to finally figure it out.  The idea had come to me while I was listening to the screams of a woman; I didn’t catch her name but I believe she was an ornithologist.  I’m not going to lie, she was really starting to bother me. Her screams weren’t really screams. It sounded like a whiny cow was being saughtered by a campesino in a slaughter house. I loved to burn people, yes, but I also loved to imagine the screams of people, not actually hear them. I decided, why not kill two birds with one very flaming stone.


The next victim I took was my girlfriend at the time. She trusted me, despite the so getting her to come to my apartment was quite easy. I layered my walls with sound proof plastic so that no one would get suspicious. When Isobel arrived at my 5th floor loft that night, I had her handcuffed and gagged before she could even notice all of the foreign equipment laying all over the floors. Her arms quivered and her legs relentlessly struggled to escape the plastic zip ties that bound her to the metal rods of a medical gurney.   She tried to scream as liquid cement inched town a size 6 endotracheal tube and flooded her mouth, throat and trachea. Her last attempts at freedom were masked by the most terrifying yet brilliant sound in the world; a 1906 Alair lighter clicking on. I’ll leave you to guess what happened next…


Days passed, years passed and decades passed.  With the time, I had come to realize that there was a reason that I chose fire. It only takes a singular spark to start one. Oh but once that fire is started, there is no telling what it will do. It is implacable, relentless, unstoppable. It destroys everything in it’s path, taunting the enemy with plumes of incandescent flame. Fire in itself is a structure; a burning tower of rage and anger. I was all alone that night, the night when the fire finally finished gnawing at my morality and judgment. Perhaps it was only a phantasm but as I poured the gasoline and lit the fire that would soon kill me, I noticed a silky black raven on the windowsill outside. The raven wore a pair of ice cold blue eyes. The same pair of ice cold blue eyes that had haunted me since the very moment I opened mine.




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