THE MAD AND THE MACABRE
by Jeff Strand and Michael McBride
© Jeff Strand 2010 and Michael McBride 2010
Table of Contents
About the Authors
Charlie Stanlon held the dead woman and wept.
It wasn't supposed to happen like this. He'd been careful, like always. He'd applied antiseptic and bandaged each cut right after he made it, and he hadn't cut her anyplace where she should've bled to death. Though her nude body was covered with dozens of bandages, she should've been his for at least another week.
But, no, she'd just given up. After the first few slashes, she'd barely even struggled.
Charlie walked away from the bloodstained metal table, to the other side of the basement, and tried to compose himself. Crying over this was ridiculous. He was forty-two, not a little kid who'd broken his toy airplane. He grabbed a rag from the crooked shelf he'd installed himself and wiped his eyes.
Pathetic. He was absolutely pathetic.
Charlie forced himself to shrug. 'Oh well,' he said out loud. 'These things happen. Can't win 'em all. That's life in the big city for you.'
He glanced back at the corpse. He could
No. He'd just be cutting up a dead woman. That was no good. There was no satisfaction there--he'd simply be making a mess.
He felt the tears start to form again, and bit down on the sides of his mouth--hard--to keep them from flowing. It didn't work. But at least the pain made him feel a little bit better about crying.
Charlie sat in the corner on the cement floor, and silently wept. It wasn't fair. Nine hours. He'd only had her for nine hours.
Maybe this one wouldn't count. If he had less than a day with her, she shouldn't count. That made sense.
No, no, no.
He had a rule: one every two months. No more. Not ever.
It was always somebody who wouldn't be missed. She was homeless and usually a junkie, although he preferred it when she wasn't on drugs. He could barely even imagine the euphoria if he were given the chance to cut somebody healthy and attractive--maybe even one of his co-workers--but he didn't want to spend the rest of his life in jail. He had to be cautious. And that meant no more than one victim every two months, even if one died prematurely.
He'd just have to figure out a way to make it through the next few weeks.
* * *
Alicia dropped the papers into Charlie's in-box. He didn't look away from his computer monitor until she'd walked back to her desk.
He picked up the stack of papers and sighed with frustration. She'd stapled them in the top center. She was supposed to staple them in the top left, so that he could easily fold the papers over when he was photocopying them. He quickly typed an e-mail to Bob Testiro, his supervisor, explaining the issue once again and requesting that he send out a note to the department to remind everybody of the proper procedure.
He flipped through the pages and sighed again. She hadn't written the customer report date on the balance adjustment form. Charlie sent another note to Bob to inform him of the situation.
A few minutes later, Alicia walked back to his desk. 'You know, I sit in the next row,' she said.
'Instead of trying to get me in trouble, you could've just asked me to write in the date.'
'I wasn't trying to get you in trouble.'
'It took more effort to get Bob involved than it would have to come to me directly.'
'Okay.' Without looking Alicia in the eye, Charlie took the papers out of his in-box and handed them to her.
'Did I do something to piss you off?' she asked.
'Are you sure?'
Charlie didn't respond. He looked back at his monitor and silently pleaded for her to leave him alone. If she'd done it right the first time, he wouldn't have to bother anyone, and nobody would have to bother him. It was just a staple and a date. Not that hard to remember. She'd been working here three weeks; it wasn't like today was her first day.
Alicia scribbled on the form and put it back in his in-bin. But she didn't leave.
'Look at me.'
Charlie reluctantly turned to face her. She was a couple of years younger than him, as far as he could tell. Not model pretty or actress pretty, but her beauty still made him nervous. She had curly red hair that went down to her shoulders, and freckles. Lots of freckles.
'We have to spend nine or ten hours a day in this place,' she said. 'So why don't we try to make it a pleasant work environment?'
'If you have an issue with me, bring it to me first, all right? If you're still not happy,