Needles. Needles, needles, needles. I’ve been surrounded by them since I was little. All sorts of medical equipment, but especially those damn hypodermic needles. Or, more accurately, a hypodermic needle attached to a syringe. My dad’s a Type I diabetic, but I think the real reason they keep all that stuff around is because my parents are both obsessive doctors. They want me to turn out just like them. That was evident from the Christmases of my toddler years, when they bought me those Fisher-Price Medical Kits for Kids. From my eighth birthday onwards, I started getting presents that were actual samples from the hospital. It interested me. All those needles, surgical equipment… everything about medicine. Surgery is my calling—I know it is.
That’s why I’m in a Pre-Med program at my school. I dissect anything I can get my hands on. There’s no feeling quite as gratifying as slicing a clear, even line through a living animal—well, one that used to be alive, at least—and exploring the inner workings of that body. Dissection ranks as my second favorite pastime. Because I’m especially fascinated by needles. Injecting things into test animal subjects and seeing how they react makes for interesting science experiments. And my inquiring scientific mind makes for perfect grades in school, where I’m already a super star.
As evidenced by tonight, a Saturday night, and my third date in a row.
The girl sits in the passenger seat, eyes alternating between staring out the window and staring at me. She’s doe-eyed, all innocent-looking and cute, one of those quiet girls you could tell was going to be successful someday. Her eyes hold an odd expression, almost as if she can’t believe this is real, can’t believe this is actually happening.
That’s the look most girls wear when they go out with me. Who’s to blame them, after all; I’m the star athlete of the school. You name a sport, I’m captain of that team. As a result, I’ve got a well-built body and the face of a movie star. In my high school filled with losers, girls go wild for guys who are remotely attractive, especially when they smell good, dress well and ride motorcycles.
But no motorcycle this time. This girl’s classy; I’m taking her out in my Mercedes Benz. Being a trust fund baby has its perks.
“Something wrong?” I say, topping it off with a dimpled smile that I know will dazzle her into submission. “Oh, uh, no,” she says. “I’m just… why did you pick me, out of all the other girls?”
“You caught my eye the very first day. There’s something special about you, ya know.” A flat lie, but she eats it up. Another hopeless romantic. These dumb high school girls go for the corniest lines.
Or so I think. She looks almost uncomfortable. The sun has long set and the road we’re driving down grows progressively darker and deserted. It’s quiet outside, completely silent, except for the occasional chirping of crickets. There’s a stark absence of streetlights along this windy little road in the backwoods of Pennsylvania. The tendrils of the shadows extend out from the woods, seeming to reach for the car, almost as if trying to grab us and force us back to their gloomy depths. The large trees loom over us, foreboding, a warning. “Hey, don’t worry, I’ll drive you home as soon as we get to the on ramp on the highway. It’s coming up in a few minutes.”
Magic words. She relaxes. “I just, uh, don’t want you to get lost or anything. Kinda dark, out here.”
A few moments of silence pass before she finally asks the question I know she’s wanted to all night. “So, are you… over her?”
I shoot her an inquisitive glance, and she fumbles before clarifying, “Sarah. You know. They still haven’t… found her.” Oh, wonderful. Just what I need, another one of these girls digging into my private life. “Yeah, really, it’s such a shame. I feel awful for her parents. But I’m on a date with you now, aren’t I?” Yeah. I’m over her, all right.
She nods, grins, happy with my response. I peer out the window, see that the turn is coming up. “You look tired. Why don’t you lean back, try taking a nap, it’ll be about twenty-five minutes from here.” I say it as a command. If you present yourself as an authoritarian figure, passive people are less likely to disagree. And it works. She leans back, gets comfortable, plays around with something in her hands that I can’t see, a phone or an iPod or something. Settles in, closes her eyes, leaves herself vulnerable.
Just how I like them. I make a smooth right onto a road much less traveled than the one we’re on. We’re getting closer now, driving into my neck of the woods, slanting uphill. All I need her to do is keep her eyes closed, think we’re on a highway. Closer… closer… Just a little longer. Almost there. I can almost feel myself gently marking her body with sharpie. Cutting a clean line with my scalpel, watching the blood pour out, relishing its metallic flavor. I can almost taste her smooth, plump skin. Her sweet, sweet flesh, just waiting to be consumed.
I want to feel her writhe, want to feel her struggle and then grow still when she realizes she can’t escape, she won’t escape, there is no escape. When she realizes she’s taking her final breaths. When she realizes there is blood pouring out of her chest, so much blood, and what is she going to do, she can’t lose this much blood and live, oh god I’m going to die, he’s going to kill me, tell my mother I love her…
I want her to watch as I dip two fingers into her wound, cover them in warm blood and draw little designs on her body. Have her watch me be unresponsive to her dying cries, entertain myself with her organs.
A pothole in the road juts me out of my fantasies.
Needles. I want to slide a needle into her skin. I want to inject her with all sorts of chemical substances that will flirt with her body’s chemicals and make her turn blue, or kill her, or make her high, or paralyze her, or raise her natural levels of something-or-other. I want to store parts of her in the refrigerator, glance at my handiwork and keep her for further use.
And there it is. I see it, my light at the end of the tunnel. The dilapidated little shack teetering haphazardly on top of the hill. I can’t help but smile. It was almost too easy. Time for her to join the ranks of Sarah.
I look over, and to my surprise she has her eyes open and is looking around. Not nervous, but still relaxed. That’s odd. “You’ve got a little place in the woods? Oh, Matt, this is so romantic!” she coos, looks at me with those amorous doe eyes. I weigh my options, decide it’s best to play around with the charade just a little longer. “Yeah, babe, it’s great to sit and cuddle and watch a movie. Let’s go.”
Always a gentleman, I open her door for her and hold her arm as she steps out, with an iron grip. Then I pull her in close, look into her eyes.
Something’s wrong. She senses it. I watch with delight as her eyes change from unconditional trust to those of a frightened animal. Oh God, yes, I love it.
“You have such nice skin.” I’ve got her arm bent behind her back, gripped so hard that she emits a slight cry of pain. I let one of my fingers trail down her face, that soft, baby-smooth skin, so very enticing. Her eyes open and close, eyelashes flutter against my cheek, and I am suddenly aware of how powerless she is. “I can’t wait to slice it open.” I’m breathing heavy now, hard to contain my excitement, so very hard. “I want to watch you bleed.” I can feel her breathing fast, her heart pounding, fight-or-flight mode kicks in but she can’t do either, now can she? “You’ve got a great set of lungs. I bet you can scream real loud.” She takes in big gulps of air now, nervous, the situation overwhelming her. “And while you’re screaming, I’m going to cut you open and inspect those lungs. Take a real good look.” I grin.
Her other hand is moving. In the corner of my eye, I notice it and instantly reach to grab it, but suddenly there is something sliding into my neck, and my senses are foggy, and I can’t see, and I can’t hear, and I can’t…
Where… am I?
The light’s flickering. The harsh fluorescent glow of a single light bulb fills the room. It’s dim, but I can see all of my surgical equipment lining the shelves, all of the tools I used to devour Sarah and a dozen other people who had fallen into my trap.
I know this place. She dragged me into my own shack? I begin to stir, feel the hard metal of the operating table underneath me, and realize I am tied to it.
There’s something wet on my shirt. “A… Allison?” My voice comes out muggy, my tongue feels thick. I can’t speak. I can’t think.
“Oh, goodie! You’re awake!” She turns around, a smile stretched from ear to ear. I still can’t see right. My eyelids feel like they weigh a million pounds. My gaze takes her in all at once, then drops to her hands.
She’s holding a needle.
Her footsteps sound exaggeratedly loud as she draws closer. Everything sounds loud. I’m aware, I’m conscious, but I can’t move. I can twitch, but I can’t move. I feel like a trapped animal. I look up at her, almost pleadingly.
Then I notice the scalpel in her other hand. She pulls on her surgical gloves, grazes the tip of the needle with her finger.
“Don’t worry. This won’t hurt a bit.”
Anne Marie Bompart, Age 17, Grade 12, The Kew-Forest School, Gold Key