A dance in the natural order

Warning: this story may be offensive to some readers. Please do not read it if you are particularly sensitive to suggestions of physical violence. It is not the author’s intention to glorify violence. This is a work of fiction inspired by contemplating what drives some people to commit heinous acts which are not and should not be seen as being in the ‘natural order’. The title is drawn from the perspective of the imagined offender.

He moved slowly and with purpose. Every action was precise, from the position of his body to the tread of his step and the flexing of the muscles in his forearms as he clenched and unclenched his fists over and over. For the past several nights, the urge had grown stronger, until he imagined himself as a lion that had gone too long without food and for whom the next hunt could be delayed no further. Tonight’s full moon told him he would be sated.

He always let them come to him. He didn’t believe in stalking. That was the difference between him and others. Others plotted and planned. But he was no devious predator. He was a dancer performing a complex routine in tune with the orchestra of the universe. What he did was part of the cycle of life, part of the balance of good and evil.

Most nights, of course, nothing happened. He would return home with the urge still pumping through his veins, the hunger that little bit more piquant. Because it all depended on the universe delivering up the right set of circumstances. That perfect lull in the night traffic; that fading street lamp that finally gives out, plunging an ordinary suburban street into a primeval darkness; that right girl turning into it, her gait uneasy from alcohol, her heels slightly too high for comfort, her reflexes clumsy. Even then, all could be lost in a split second. She could turn into the driveway of the first house and never come close enough for an encounter. Or a car may suddenly pull around the bend, its bright lights blaring into the magical darkness, disrupting the immaculate stillness of the moment. But every now and then, ever so rarely, the dance was in perfect harmony. She would continue walking, alone, towards him, approaching the vacant lot, or the thicket of bushes where he was lying in wait. She was a deer separated from the herd. He was a wild cat in the night. And that night, a woman appeared on the edge of his vision.

She had turned a corner someway up the street and was now walking towards him and away from the last strands of light seeping from the only streetlamp in sight. She was walking into his arms. He positioned his body now, arms hanging loosely at his sides, his posture straight-backed with knees slightly bent, his back foot sprung, ready to propel himself silently onto her.

As she came nearer, he felt he could gauge her body shape and size, even her weight, simply by listening to her footsteps. He prepared himself for the opening move. Within a moment she had passed him, not noticing him there just feet from her until he was behind her, then just as soon, all over her, one hand around her mouth, his other arm wrapped around her waist, almost picking her up off the ground in the first, dramatic manoeuvre.

She began to wriggle immediately – her opening move – writhing in his grasp, flexing every muscle she could control in an attempt to break free. She turned her neck awkwardly back to look into his face and as she did this, he plunged the knife into her. Her eyes widened so far he felt that he would have seen the capillaries burst had they more than the light of the moon to see by. He felt her breath against his palm as he stifled her scream. He stabbed her again. This time, her eyes seemed to follow the knife as it entered her. He felt her resistance waning and removed his hand from her mouth. A small groan emanated from it before she hit the ground. It was like the paso doble, where the woman always ends on the floor, the man standing dominant over her. But there wasn’t time to waste. He dragged her into the bushes ensconcing them both in thick cover. He would need to complete his grim task quickly now, because it was all about timing, right to the very end.

As he walked away, receding into the night, he knew that he was once again in peak condition, that he had his rhythm back, and that the dance would be performed over and over, until someone turned off the music.

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