The footsteps paused briefly at her doorway.Â She listened for a knock at the door and when that didnâ€™t come she figured it was just another salesman and went back to getting dressed for her run.
Autumn was among her favorite seasons and the best time to run alongside of the lake.Â The crisp air was invigorating and the bone chilling cold of winter was still to come. An early morning run followed by a shower and the perfect cup of coffee were a ritual she had started in college and maintained through her marriage and divorce.
Running was where she did her best thinking and the time when she almost always figured out the answers to things that troubled her.
It took less than ten minutes to get dressed, throw her hair in a ponytail and head out the door.
Five more minutes took her around the corner and down the street towards the lake. Somewhere during the moments when she waved at the ducks resting from their southern journey the footsteps that had paused at her doorway returned.
He had been watching her for three months now, studying her routine and habits. He knew that she would be out for no less than 40 minutes and no longer than 63.
The cameras he had installed inside her home had helped him figure out that her post run routine took approximately 37 minutes and that at least 13 of those were spent in the bathroom.
That was twenty minutes less than her evening routine which included a long stint of brushing her hair and various other female grooming habits.
His notebooks contained many more details about what she did, how she did it and who she did it with. Those books and his methodical nature were a big part of the reason he had never been caught, that and twenty years of experience.
Twenty years of experience had taught him much and helped him refine his approach, manner as well as develop a certain style.
He had only killed his prey a handful of times.
The first time had been a huge mistake.
She had tried to fool him. She had welcomed him, encouraged him to do what he had to do, not to her, but with her and he had believed her.
Of course he had tried to make her prove it, demanded she show him she could be trusted. She had smiled at him, kissed him and begged to have a chance to show him what she could do if her hands were free.
Youth, arrogance and ego had made him think it would work and he had freed her hands.
She climbed onto his lap, straddled him and pushed his head into her cleavage.
He remembered inhaling deeply, intoxicated by her scent and the amazing feeling of her legs wrapped around him.
And then came the pain of the scissors she jammed into his shoulder blade, the scream of rage and the surprise he felt when she didnâ€™t let go.
He stood up, and she stayed with him, legs still wrapped around his body, her fists pounding his head and back.
That was her mistake and what saved him.
She hadnâ€™t hit anything vital and he was still much bigger, stronger than she was.
He was angry so he punished her by being rough and when he was spent she was no more.
Lesser men would have taken that experience and learned to never let their prey use their hands, no matter how they begged or what they promised. He wasnâ€™t one of them.
He knew he had a larger destiny and that there were many ways to control people. It was part of why he studied them.
Some were shown pictures of family members and told a lack of cooperation would be bad.Â When they didnâ€™t believe him he would show them pictures of body parts and a chain saw.
The thought made him laugh because the pictures werenâ€™t his work, but they were effective. They always did as he asked and played whatever part he wanted, but variety is the spice of life which is why he had learned how to make a certain cocktail that removed inhibitions.
It also removed basic muscle function.
They were aware of what was happening but unable to do anything about it. Sometimes it was fun to make a puppet to play with.
The cocktail had created a few issues for him. It wasnâ€™t the sort of thing you could ask a doctor or pharmacist to teach you to make, so he had been forced to experiment. That had been rough, a couple of his guinea pigs never did wake up again, but that wasnâ€™t the worst part.
Every time he was with one of his playmates he wanted to see their eyes and those early times had made them sleep through it.
Time was wasting away and it wouldnâ€™t be long before she would return.Â It was time to start the preparations.
He began by going to the nightstand and pulled out the gun that lay inside. He was feeling saucy so this time around he thought he we would leave it there, disabled of course.
The thought of the look on her face when she realized it wasnâ€™t working made him dance with glee.
He took out the tape, the rope and a couple of toys and waited where he knew she wouldnâ€™t look. He would give her time to get in the shower and he if she fought she would have time to get her gun.
But there were other preparations to make, things to do so she couldnâ€™t call for her help or run outside.
The chimes from the clock in the hallway made him look upâ€“ five more minutes and play time would begin.
(Editor’s note: this originally ran here.)