This is a longer Flash Fiction I wrote a short while back. As the title suggests, it revolves around the idea of motive- why would a person commit a terrible crime? Be warned that it is rather dark and a bit violent.
I hit and I hit and I hit, my arms pounding with rage. His blood stained my hands, painting them with crimson. I roared like an animal.
That’s what I was. I was a lion, nostrils full of the scent of zebra. I was a shark and there was blood in the water.
I punched and tore long after he was dead. The more I did, the less he looked like himself. The less he looked like a person.
At last, the anger left me. I stood up and looked at the blood on my hands. When I was killing him, I didn’t think about the why. That might sound weird, but I really didn’t. I wasn’t thinking at all, really. It was only later, when I was sitting in that cell, staring at lifeless brick, that I though about why I’d done it. I went back through my memory and searched until I found the moment- the moment when I’d decided to kill him.
I was sitting in my car in the parking lot, staring down at that little slip of paper. It was so simply, black type on plain, white paper. The words were big and clinical. I read them over and over again, looking for the slightest trace of sympathy, of sorrow, of guilt, of anything.
They were just cold, like ice water. They were only words and words didn’t seem enough. One of them drew my attention more than the others. No matter how long I looked at that mass of text, my eyes always drifted back to it.
As in terminus, as in terminate, as in the end.
That was when I decided.
I had a couple of motives. I didn’t want him to outlive me. I want to take him down with me. I wanted to go out with a bang. I’d be dying anyways so it didn’t matter how the court sentenced me.
I think, mostly, it was “why not?”
So I turned the key in the ignition, put my foot down, and pulled out of my parking spot. I drove down the freeway, streaking past the other cars.
I don’t know what speed I was going. Must have been pretty fast, though. Somehow, I didn’t get pulled over.
I wonder how things would have turned out if I had been. I suppose at the time I would have thought it didn’t matter. Nothing mattered.
But I wouldn’t have pulled off the freeway, wouldn’t have driven down Main Street, wouldn’t have driven into his neighborhood. I wouldn’t have parked my car across the street, wouldn’t have sat there waiting, the only sound my ragged breath- like a bull’s, I thought.
I wouldn’t have been there when he got home. I wouldn’t have tackled him. I wouldn’t have punched and hit and bit and scratched and tore until he was dead.
It’s funny to think how everything could go so differently so easily.
I didn’t think about running. Where would I have run? I was a dead man walking. I was perfectly calm as they put the handcuffs around my wrists, the cold metal digging into my skin. Some of the cops looked sick when they saw what I’d done.
I think I poured all my feelings into him when I killed him, because I didn’t feel anything as they led me away. I didn’t feel regretful or angry or anything. I didn’t even feel bad about the note.
I was like that note, I think. Lots of bad news, but the words didn’t care. They were just cold.
They booked me and locked me up in a cell, slamming the door behind me. I wondered if my mugshot looked like the mugshot of a dying man.
Like I said, that was when I started thinking about the why. I didn’t have much else to do.
And I think I’ve finally worked it all out. I think I always wanted to kill him. In my heart, I was always a murderer. I was always the monster.
But that note, that news, it set me free. My mortality was a chain, holding me back. I didn’t do things because I was afraid. I was afraid I’d get caught, afraid I’d die, afraid I’d suffer, afraid of how other people would look at me.
When I was dying, I was finally alive. No more fear. I did what I wanted.
This is what I realized: that we’re all monsters, underneath it all. We’re all killers. Society makes us hold it in because we’re afraid. If we weren’t afraid, we’d just do whatever we wanted.
It’s fear that holds us in. Regret and morality are just other words for it.
There was one more piece of paper waiting for me, from the same source as the first one. In a way, it was crueler. The first had set me free. This one put me back in the cage.
I read it once, then threw it away. The words danced around my head, laughing and taunting.
“Deeply sorry,” they said.
“Terrible mix-up,” they said.
“Tests are negative,” they said.
I felt afraid again when I read those words. When death was certain, I’d been free. I could do what I wanted because things couldn’t get worse.
But now I had a future, I was terrified.