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At the age of seven, Charlie Drenth forced his middle and index fingers into his two-year old sister’s vagina. Catching him in the act, Charlie’s father decided on a direct approach at correction, taking his work belt to his son and then locking the boy, naked and striped with welts, in an outdoor storage shed for twenty hours. To his knowledge this proved effective, as Charlie never again molested his sister. Of course the senior Drenth couldn’t have realized what had been sired, alone in the dark and filth of that storage shed. What before had lain dormant within the little boy burst through to the surface, growing to maturity along with Charlie, getting ready for the world. A monster had been born that

Charlie often thought of his sister when he worked. If he had his preference, the women he took bore at least a passing resemblance to her, as she herself had been a carbon reproduction of their mother. Charlie had, on occasion, taken brunettes or blondes, fat, middle-aged or unattractive women. But his specialty remained pretty, petite young redheads. Natural redheads, just like his sister.

Just like Charlie’s current victim.

Charlie squatted, naked, with his hands on his knees, sweating from exertion. His member stiff and aching with excitement, he admired his handiwork. A few feet from him, resting atop the sheet of plastic Charlie had spread over the hardwood floor, lay the
body of the woman. Her perfumed skin had given with ease under Charlie’s blade and,
after his initial cut had opened her throat and left her still and cooperative, Charlie took
his time with her, as though he unwrapped a birthday present. Like usual, he started at her
groin, where Nature had already split her, providing him a template. He traced a line up
through her navel to her sternum, over the bone and between her breasts to join his first
lateral cut at her throat. Her blood, still warm, washed over his hands, and Charlie smeared it over his naked skin like warpaint, licking it from his fingers.

With care, Charlie filled the plastic bucket with her insides, pleased at himself for removing them with such skill, keeping them intact. He hadn’t always been able to
manage it, but practice had brought with it proficiency. Charlie finished hollowing out her abdomen, taking another breather before continuing to the grand finale, the coup de grace of his work, his art—the removal of her heart.

Charlie sat down on the plastic, resting. He looked around the room. All but one of the four walls were covered now. He’d gotten the idea from some movie, gluing all the
newspaper clippings to the paneling, some of them yellow with age, some more recent,
white and crisp and new. He couldn’t read the words from here, but that didn’t matter.
Charlie knew them all: The New York Times; The New Orleans Times-Picayune; The
Birmingham Post Herald; The Atlanta Gazette. Many others. All bearing record of
Charlie’s work. He’d brought them back with him, here to his home. Just like all the hearts in their jars, row after row of them, displayed on the shelves mounted to the wall behind him. His trophies, his treasures, his legacy surrounded him. Charlie smiled.

“Okay,” Charlie said. “Back to work.”

Blood congealed in the woman’s tousled hair and her eyes stared, unblinking, at the ceiling, at the bare sixty-watt bulb burning overhead, her mouth parted as though she
were about to draw breath. Yet she voiced no complaint as Charlie began the tricky process of extricating her heart. He severed the attaching arteries, loosed it from where it
couched between the lungs. With care, Charlie drew the organ out to hold in his hands. Another perfect specimen, a prize for his collection. Charlie wept with pride as he caressed it, kissed it, trying to wipe it clean.

The heart began to beat.

Charlie dropped it, falling backwards on the wet plastic. As he watched in shock, the heart pounded harder and harder, swelling and constricting faster. What a wondrous surprise! The heart still possessed life! Perhaps it was pleased to be free from its imprisonment inside the woman? Perhaps it wished to thank him? Charlie crawled closer, reaching for it.

A new sound. Sounds. Charlie raised his head. All the hearts in their jars were beating, sloshing in their pink-tinted formaldehyde, thumping against glass. A couple of jars teetered off their shelves and smashed on the floor. The hearts kept beating.

The heart before him exploded, cardiac tissue rupturing. Charlie stared, transfixed. Jars shattered as the organs inside them split open. From all the hearts spewed a black mist, a swirling, slick intangibility, rising in the air, pooling to form a cloud beneath the ceiling of the room. The lightbulb blinked and burst, but now the mist somehow gave off its own light, filling the room with its strange glow. A roiling mass resembling a funnel descended from the cloud, reaching out for Charlie where he knelt on the floor.

“No, please!” Charlie whimpered.

The shape formed a head, monstrous, serpentine. A maw. Two eyes. Or rather two impossible dark holes against the lesser blackness that could have been eyes. It poised in front of Charlie’s face.

The Darkness spoke, its voice like boiling water, releasing steam.

“Do not be afraid, little thing. I am very pleased with you.”

“I didn’t mean to do it!” Charlie babbled. “I didn’t mean to!”

“Be quiet, little thing, and hear me.”

The eyes stared into Charlie’s. He felt his bowels loosen, his bladder empty. He

covered his face with his hands.

“Please! Leave me alone!”

“I have chosen you,” the Darkness said. “You have always been My servant, little
thing. Now it is time for you to cease your aimless wandering.”

“Whadda you mean?”

“I have a special task for you, little thing,” the Darkness said. “You have proven yourself worthy. Now you will serve Me in earnest.”

TheCheezman • January 26, 2020

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