by Alex Granados
It was after 10 p.m. when the lights went out. He pulled the double-barreled breakers one by one until
electricity stopped flowing to every room of the house. With that accomplished, he left the basement.
The drip, drip of rain burrowing through the dirt and escaping from the ceiling accompanied him as he
headed up the stairs to the kitchen.
When he had first set foot upon the stairs to walk down to the basement, the wood creaked, setting off
the beating of his heart like a match to a fuse. He knew the woman was coming, but he did not know
how long it would take her to get here. He had made the call half an hour before and waited what he
deemed an appropriate amount of time to set his plan into action. It was important that everything went
smoothly, or else he didn't stand a chance. The anxiety of getting it all right had joined his
determination as he trudged down the steps. Now that he marched back up with only echoes and
shapeless dark for company, his heart began to calm; confidence buoyed him. He knew his plan would
And it must. He knew he only had one shot. The woman would overpower him if his trap did not ensnare
her, and then all would be lost. He knew what she looked like. She had come to his house many times
before, except those times it was at the behest of his parents, both of whom were gone this night.
Every time he had seen her through the window, he knew the threat she posed. She was pretty, of that
there was no doubt, and young. Her skin was as smooth as a knife blade and shiny like it had been
polished. Her cherub nose was encapsulated beneath the veil of blond hair that sat atop her head like a
writhing helmet. Her blue eyes were as deep as a Caribbean ocean, but as menacing as a Transylvania
night. He knew that as soon as she set eyes on him, her smile would deteriorate, causing her eyes to slit
and her forehead to furrow. Then her incisors would show. At that point, he only had a moment. It was
kill or be killed, and he aimed to be the victor.
It had been a month since he had begun to conceive his plan. It was simple really. Because of his
parents’ past invitations she was comfortable coming to the house, so he didn't think she would feel
alarmed at the absence of light emanating from within, at least not enough to leave without
investigation. The only light when she approached would be the one inside his soul, like from heaven,
and behind her eyes, as from hell. She would reach the door and make as if to knock, but then she
would notice that the door was open about three inches, forming an acute angle with the wall. When she
pushed on it to poke her head in and inquire if anyone was home, the pot of water that he was now
balancing on top of the door would fall and scold her face. The pot was special: with the cover on top, it
insulated heat, keeping it from cooling too rapidly. It would protect the water’s ability to do damage once
the trap was sprung. The water would not deliver a deadly blow—it wouldn’t be that simple with her—but
it would incapacitate her long enough for him to attack. A knock to the head with the hammer would
render her unconscious, and then he could drag her in and dispatch her with ease, unafraid of any harm.
And he knew that given a chance she would harm. Cheeks flushed as if gently rubbed, lips like rose
petals and a body a model would envy—these features obscured the slime that lurked within her. He
knew this because he had experienced the pain inflicted from the minds of many of the Barbies and
Kens. Their scorn poked like a handful of needles, which—unlike a dagger—do not confine the pain to
only one point.
After he set the pot, he retreated back to the basement, back to the drip, drip. He was comfortable
here. It was where he spent most of the time. His parents locked the door at the top of the stairs when
they left, but he picked the lock. It was “time out” they said. They told him that if he wanted extra to
eat, he had to eat the leftovers they cooked the night before. He could not order out again.
“Bot, uhm seek uv read meet, day ofta day. I wont to eet fresher,” he insisted. After they prompted him
to repeat what he was saying (his youthful speech classes clearly having been ineffective), he cried and
stamped his feet, but to no avail. They locked him down with the drip, drip and without even the
leftovers. But “time out” had happened before and he had learned how a nail could be used as a key.
In the basement, he sat on his chair, the only furniture. His weight pushed down on the basket-woven
seat so that it did not sit flat, but with a tilt. He caressed the hammerhead in one hand. It was as
smooth as her skin would be and as hard as her heart; its face was round like a penny. Five minutes and
then he would wait behind the door. Five minutes and then his heart would lurch like a rocket on takeoff
as he prepared to do violence. He thought over his life. His parents always told him that he was no
different than anybody else, no worse, certainly. They crushed him with hugs when the other kids used
to tease him and dropped kisses upon his head when his reflection set off his tears. Though he generally
stayed in the basement, he had access to any joy he could want. A television, video games, a weight set
and books, all littered the floor of the basement at one time or another. Now there was only a chair and
a TV. He stopped leaving the house around age four with his parents’ approval after the stares got to
be too much. At that point, he had begun to spend most of his time watching Lifetime movies about
femme-fatales who wreak havoc and violence to the men around him. When the woman began to come
to the house, he knew she looked familiar, he knew she represented the reality of what he had seen on
the small screen.
This was not the first time he had come into contact with her like; just the latest. And her nature—which
only he could see—gave him the freedom to do what he needed to do. His parents caught on to his
struggle for justice, but they called it self-indulgence. They could not see the goodness of what he did.
But inside, a rumbling—he knew what he did was right.
Five minutes passed and it was time. His legs created a symphony of creaking as his feet lightly touched
and stepped off each stair on his way up from the basement. At the top, he shot through the kitchen
like a cork from a champagne bottle and entered the main hall where the door stood. Already he could
see the headlights dance across the windows before settling their gaze on the street. He crouched
behind the door, hammer held at mid-level, ready. He heard the click of the car lights going off, the
squeak of the car door opening, the thud of it being slammed and the clip-clop of the shoes stepping up
the walkway. He could hear her breathing and the hesitation in her step as she approached the house.
The clip-clop stopped only inches away from the door.
“Hello?” her voice called out in what Kindergarten teachers might describe as an inside voice. “HELLO?” it
called again, this time with an outdoor volume. “Geez,” she said as she pushed on the door and stuck
her head in the crack. “IS THERE ANYBODY…” she began, but her words shifted to a scream as the pot
fell from the top of the door, its flight causing the lid to fly off and scalding water to land on her. The
scream lasted as long as it takes to count to two and then was ended with one blow to the top of her
head. She fell to the ground, the pizza box she carried landing next to her body, which was garbed in
the same colors and with the same insignia as the box. Pizza Hut, they both read.
He ignored the box and grabbed her feet, dragging her through the door and shutting it behind him. He
slid her through the hallway and into the kitchen, where the knives were laid out next to the tarp on the
floor. He slid her up to the tarp and then rolled her on top. Picking up two knives, one for gutting and
one for skinning, he caught a glimpse of himself in the refrigerator door. Moonlight spilled through the
kitchen window and illuminated his reflection allowing him to see himself free of the shadows. Bristles of
hair poked out of his head like from a poorly seeded garden and his one eye, tilted outward so he had to
turn his head to see, blinked at the reflection. His mouth, the full size of his face from the nose down,
hid his jaws and fangs until his lizard-like tongue darted out to lick the drool from the nub of his chin. He
tried to stand up straight, but the hump at the apex of his body kept him hunched and twisted slightly
to the right. He struggled to raise the knives with his arms, which resembled twigs with muscles as
sturdy as leaves. He would just have to take his time. His parents said nothing but leftovers, but he
knew he would have better. Staring down at the woman and then back at his reflection, he smiled the
best he could and spoke as clear as he ever had in his life: “Bon appétit,”…and then he went to work.