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Something Odd About Mr. Smith
The frightened lab rat scurried to one of the corners of the maze, its chest moving rapidly at the sight of children, smiling strangely. Their laughter revealing amusement at the panicky antics of the creature, accompanied the screaming of the window glass, as it shrieked every time the sharp branches of the darkened tree slashed against it. Jerry Fishman picked up one of the rusting tongs that belonged to the class set, entwining them between his stubby fingers. He leaned his body against the sturdy maze box, his hand that grasped the tongs gliding like a hawk toward its stunned prey. Once capturing the creature, he forcefully picked it up by the tail, as it squealed in agony, trying to break free of the tormenter’s clutches. She watched from her desk, straying from the conversation with her lab partner. The other students seemed to being paying no attention to the struggles of the helpless animal. Oh, but how she couldn’t dare to. The wailing was an ominous siren.
The ivory colored mouse couldn’t do anything, when its end was already mapped out by the manipulator in this little experiment.
“Hey Lauren, are you listening to me?” Janet asked, frowning at her partner’s constant disappearances from conversations.
“Yes, sorry. What question are we on?”
Ding. Ding. Ding. That had been the pleasurable sound of freedom. People rushed out of the campus, trampling the virgin snow, soiling the essence of its purity. The winter break was to begin. Families would reunite in festive celebrations, lovers would roam freely in the direction of their clouded love, and friends would swear promises under their alcohol scented breaths. Lauren, on the other hand, planned to decipher her strange love notes. It had started out with a simple note she had found in her locker at her workplace, stating that he’d been admiring her from a far. Then, as the weeks flew by, the notes became more complex and slowly transformed into a darkened yearning for her. She heard not the subtle rattle of fear, but rather an exciting attraction, heightened by the sense of mystery and romance the messages had given her. Her friends, who she would be rooming with during the holidays, deduced it was John Fox, a classmate and friend of hers who had also worked at the local ice skating ring with her. John, to her, was like sweet chocolate. At the center of the delicious shell, was a rich and juicy articulation. He was a poet, who would often read his sonnets out loud to his classmates. The topic would usually be on love, which had been a strong reason that had led Lauren to believe her friends. She stood at the bulletin board now, waiting patiently for her friends to come meet up with her so they could begin planning how to approach her lover. Her wandering eyes were drawn to the missing people’s notifications. There were recent ones such as Jessica Davidson, Jamie Wolfe and then a week old one that had seemed very familiar. Kathie Jacobson. She had been a classmate of Lauren’s. Kathie was known for her large, beautiful luminous blue eyes which would make Lauren feel a little envious of her. It gave Lauren a strange feeling, thinking what might have happened to them. There was a sudden vibration in her coat pocket. She reached inside to view a message from her friends on relocation - To the park.
Snow’s thin fragile flakes sprinkled onto the slightly cracked pavement, melting and morphing into drops of ice-cold liquid tears. Lauren took in all the details. The long, graceful trees sheltered the tiny creatures of day from the sharp chill, although naked themselves. Two children played within the labyrinth playground, flourishing in innocent youth, blinded from hardships outside the maze. The silence of the afternoon was like deep bliss. The only sound audible was that of the snow crunching beneath her feet, a light crisping sound. As she continued down the long path, a new melody reached her ears. It was a drawling hum, a soft quavering voice. Her vision guided by her accurate ears focused on the occupied bench. There sat a young man, his back fully erect and shoulders broadened, his eyes skimming at an old hardbound book. His deep ebony hair which framed his long thin face contrasted greatly with the hoary snow. He was dressed in a long dark overcoat. Mr. Smith. Lauren knew little about him; that he was once a surgeon, working at one of the local hospitals. He had moved into the neighborhood about five years ago with his wife, Mary Smith. She was lovely and often made unique dolls for the terminal ill children at her husband’s hospital. Tragically within their second year, she had died from in a car accident. It was rumored that the loss had a terrible effect on Mr. Smith. Lauren had seen him sometimes, during mass in church. He’d always smile a shy smile and try to engage in a casual conversation, such as “how’s school?” or “how’s work?” Lauren could only feel sad for the poor man, which inclined her to be friendly.
His soft lullaby ended quickly as he snapped the book shut, noticing Lauren.
“Hello.” He greeted, in his soft voice.
He smiled a shy smile as she waved.
“Sit down if you’d like.” He said in a faint whisper, that she almost couldn’t hear.
Lauren sat beside him politely, feeling his curious gaze, his cobalt eyes like midnight, shadowy and unclear to read.
“Your hair’s simply wonderful, if I may say, like passionate golden fire spreading warmth on this cold winter day.” He said. In one of his conversations with her, he would proudly declare how he took poetry as a course in college and explained how it would always seep into his dialogues.
However, it was strange to hear a compliment from an older man she was barely acquaintances with. The way he had stated it, was rather uncomfortable to her. But, she quickly put that aside, reflecting on how lonely he must really be.
“Thanks Mr. Smith,” She said, recollecting a gentle smile.
From across the park, she could hear the faint calls of her friends, barking for her. Lauren quickly arose, “Okay, I have to go” and she sprinted away to meet her friends, relieved to be away from that awkward encounter.
“I’ll take those skates”, the woman said, as she handed Lauren a twenty dollar bill, accepting the shimmering amber colored skates in return. The week at the ice ring had been slow, but productive for Lauren. Her friends had devised a plan, two days ago when Lauren received another admiring note. They all safely confirmed that the note writing admirer had to be John. Consensus among her friends was that probably John was too shy to make the initial move, though he did not really appear to be all that shy. So it was decided that Lauren had to make the first move.
Lauren straightened her back and held her head high, walking casually toward the second register, where John was tending to a boy, adjusting his skates. “There you go.” He exclaimed, grinning at the boy, who then skipped away to his mother after a muttered thank-you. John looked up to see Lauren, tensed.
“What’s up?” he said, standing up.
She took a deep breath, and spoke.
“John, since we’ve been working together and all, would you like to go out somewhere tonight?” she murmured, hinting she felt something towards him.
She could hear a humming noise, oddly familiar and sweet, somewhere in the background.
“I’d love to,” he said, a bit surprised. The first move made, they began making plans. “Where would you like to go?” John asked smoothly.
The humming was a bit louder now. Lauren chuckled.
“Surprise me with one of your little notes.”
John had a vague expression, but he agreed.
There was an end to the hum, as a voice spoke instead.
“I’ll take one of those skates, please.”
It was Mr. Smith. Lauren quickly completed the transaction.
That evening, Lauren had received a note in her work locker, explaining the whereabouts of their meeting. It had read “For you my precious doll, my heart will travel to the pharmacy at Baker Street where we’d embrace, in hot passion. And in the darkness, our love retreats.”
She was now waiting at the bus stop near the pharmacy, snug within her bloody red cashmere sweater, her golden locks tossing around with the wind. She waited as car after car passed by without stopping. She couldn’t understand why John wasn’t there yet. The more she thought of it, the more she was disgusted with herself for waiting so long, enduring the wasted time. Suddenly, a car honked, slowing down beside the bus stop. The window rolled down and a voice spoke to her.
“Lauren?” It was soft, gentle, alluring and so familiar. It was Mr. Smith.
“Waiting for the bus?” he asked.
There was a short pause, and then Mr. Smith asked “Would you like a ride home? You know it’s not safe to be out so late.” with a smile, a shy smile. Lauren drew back from the window hesitant at first, but then realized, that it would be quick way to get back home, and it was a kind offer. “Yes, thank you.” She opened the car door and hopped in, sinking within the dark, leather seat. “I’ll be stopping at my house first to drop a few things off. It won’t take long.” He reassured her. “Ok”
Lauren glanced around the neatly maintained home, her eyes widening at everything she saw. She made her way to the empty fireplace, tenderly holding a picture frame. “Your wife?” She asked, pointing to the elegant blonde woman beside him, cradling a doll. He seemed to be very fond of dolls, was something she noticed while entering the place. There was a wooden shelf loaded with realistic dolls, arranged to create a half circle. He had shown her his newest doll, one with soft brown hair and beautiful features. Especially the luminous blue eyes, which so quickly caught her attention. It was so wonderful and life-like.
“Yes, that’s her. I’ll be right back” he said, descending to the basement.
Lauren continued to look around, when she spotted a few untouched, dust-collecting bills lying out on his old-fashioned sofa. Mr. Smith had been billed for his treatment at a mental health facility. This was revealing news to Lauren. As she backed up and turned around, her vision blurred for some reason, and she felt a sudden hammering of pain on her right temple. The last sound she heard was the thumping of her knees against the creaky wooden floor, and the sound of her rough sweater, being dragged against the old carpet.
Her eyes shot open. A Black sea of darkness surrounded her. Her breathing was immensely difficult. Her heart pounded madly, she was stricken with an engulfing panic, consuming her. As she tried to pull herself back together, she faintly noticed one of the room corners was piled with doll anatomy parts. But, many seemed to be longer, more human than of a doll’s. The floor she laid on was slick with some sort of liquid. Lauren frantically rose, whimpering under her breath. Her hands and legs, her whole body was drenched with sticky red fluid – blood. Oh, but it wasn’t her blood from the gaping wound at her temple. Lauren gasped in horror at the trail of blood leading to a decaying corpse, sitting against a wall, her head resting loosely on her shoulders. It resembled Kathie Jacobson, without her large, lively blue eyes. Instead were large black holes drained with blood, small little mites feasting on the flesh within it, and tearing at the other wounds visible on her. Lauren shook fiercely, letting out an uncontrollable weeping that throbbed within her body.
Suddenly, a tune emerged from her cry. A familiar sound. A familiar, horrifying melody. Lauren panicked as she glanced around quickly for something to defend herself with. She spotted an old medical bed near a fueling burner that smelled of a ghastly odor. Beside it was a table of old surgical tools, stained by previous sadistic operations. She leapt for the table, violently moving the utensils around, until she found a sharp surgical knife. The hum grew stronger as a shadowed figure glided down the stairs slowly, a loud creaking with every step. The room, Lauren quickly absorbed had two exits. One was from where he was descending. And the other was unfamiliar. But she decided to escape using it, dashing up the stairs frantically. Another door at the end. She burst it open, and locked the door. She scanned the room. No windows. No where to hide. She sat at the farthest end from the door, clutching the knife while sobbing to herself as she waited for the sound of a hum and footsteps.
Suddenly, she felt like the white mouse in the maze, trapped with no one to rescue the feeble creature. The hum started. It could only run for precious life. The stairwell creaked as he approached the final step. But, in the end, it was to be used only for an experiment. The sound of keys jingled, as the knob turned the door open. And then, the remains were disposed.
He smiled at her, a shy smile.