Spirit Cat (Part 3)

9 Jun

The Nightmare Man



Fuck it, his leg hurt. And the back of his hand itched and burned where it had been scratched.

Where the hell had that cat come from, anyway? The dog probably belonged to a neighbour or something. It didn’t belong to the family. He’d watched them for long enough and he knew they didn’t have a pet.

Well, maybe a goldfish or a hamster or something, he’d never been in their house, so how would he know? What he meant was they didn’t have a dog, he’d have seen them walking it. Or a cat, he’d have seen them let it in or out the window or something.

What they’d had, and what he’d wanted, was the little girl. She was the right age, blonde hair, blue eyes, soft skin, pink and soft little lips. Just exactly right.

So where the fuck had that cat come from?

Didn’t matter. He’d got away clean. They might get fingerprints or hair and fibre or whatever, but it didn’t matter because he wasn’t in the system. He’d never been arrested, never been printed, photographed or anything. And they sure as hell didn’t have his DNA.

Well, maybe they had it now. In fact he was pretty sure they would have it now. He’d seen the tent in the park and all the cops moving about. The ones in uniform, the ones in the white suits, the ones in plain clothes. They hadn’t seen him, of course, he’d been invisible in the crowd, but he’d seen them.

So they’d have his DNA and his fingerprints, and probably hair and stuff as well. They’d have got it from the grave.

They’d have his DNA from this morning too. He’d shed enough blood when that fucking dog had bitten him, so if they had their eyes open they’d see fresh blood at the scene and they’d take a sample. They’d compare it with whatever they’d taken from the park and they’d know it was him again.

But so what?

They couldn’t find him.

He was like a disease, but in a good way. He moved about unseen, unheard, completely unnoticed. You only knew where he’d been because of what he left behind him. He was the Nightmare Man. Used to be he had nightmares himself. Now he gave them to other people.

So they’d know it was him, but they wouldn’t know who he was or where to find him, because none of what they had would lead them to his door. So fuck ‘em. He was blowing in the breeze, just like a disease.

Anyway, he needed to find another girl. And this time he’d make it perfect. Better than before. Because before had been okay, but it still wasn’t good enough. He needed more. He needed it to be perfect and he couldn’t stop until it was.

So he’d have to carry on.

Anyway, he had a couple of candidates lined up. Not fully developed, but well on their way.

As far as he was concerned they were projects. Works in progress. They were just raw material for him to work with, not children. Not really human at all.

He would pick them out, drawn by their bright eyes and clear soft skin. The delicate fragility that just invited you to do them some harm.

At first they were just faces in the crowd. Then he would track them down. He would find out where they lived, where they went to school. Who else was in the house, what their routine was like. He enjoyed all that stuff. It was good steady work and it gave him a lot of satisfaction.

And as for the payoff?

Well, he’d put in all that effort so he might as well get something out of it. After all, he’d earned it, hadn’t he?

He thought back to the way he’d started.

There’d been nothing major to begin with. Just petty stuff. A way of hitting back. A way of making his mark. Of getting back at everyone else for their indifference. He’d hated being invisible back then. Now he liked it.

He’d started by watching people. Watching them when they couldn’t watch him. It had made him feel powerful. It made him feel good.

But it hadn’t been enough, so he’d tried taking trophies. It had started with items of laundry taken from washing lines. Underwear mostly.

That was safe enough and it gave him something he could keep. Something to collect. Well, everyone needs a hobby. But he’d still wanted more, so he’d started breaking and entering.

He’d been an opportunist then, just nipping in and out as and when he could, but the opportunities didn’t come as often as he’d liked so he’d had to start making opportunities for himself.

He wasn’t very sophisticated in his technique, he knew that. He couldn’t have picked a lock to save himself. But you didn’t really have to. Not if you had a secluded place. You could always find a way in if you took your time. People were so careless. Thick, the lot of them.

But he’d always been careful to make sure there was no one in when he’d tanned the place. Last thing he wanted was a stand up fight.

Of course some people had dogs, and dogs were a nuisance.

They weren’t much of a deterrent, though. All you had to do was break a window, then shove your arm inside, wrapped a thick towel. The dog would grab you by the arm, but its teeth couldn’t get through the towel. And while it was busy chewing cloth, you gave it a couple of sharp taps on the head with a claw hammer, and that was it. No more dog, no more barking and you were in and doing whatever you wanted.

And of course, once he’d done that, once he’d killed the dog and left it’s corpse bloody on the carpet, he knew the truth.

Watching was okay. Stealing was fun. Smashing up someone else’s stuff was good for a laugh, but it was all just kid’s stuff. It was just for fun. Killing things was the real deal. It was what he really wanted to do.

Of course dogs weren’t ideal. They had big teeth and they barked a lot and most of them had owners.

Cats were easier. They were smaller and quieter and they liked to stray so even if they did have an owner it would take time for anyone to realise that their darling little moggy was gone.

So why step up. Why take children?

Well, there’s only so much fun you can have with a cat.

And anyway, the preparation was good. There was this theatricality to it. No point in just jumping out from behind a tree like the bogeyman. You had to work out your story, get your basic pitch straight, then work through the permutations, all the different things they might say, questions they might ask, objections they might make. You had to anticipate the countermoves and think about how you could deal with them.

It was just like playing chess.

Except he’d always been shit at chess and he was good at this.

But anyway, you had to get in character. It was like being an actor. And when it was all in place, you were ready to do your little turn.

But your basic pitch had to be pretty good to start off with. You had to be inventive. Kids these days were too sophisticated to go for the old ‘you want to come and see my puppies?’ routine. Animals still worked, though. Kids love animals. But you had to come at them sideways, so they didn’t see you coming. That was the skill.

The line he’d worked out was that he was working for a vet and he was taking a sick little animal back to its poor little old lady owner. He couldn’t find the address and he was already late, so could the little girl help him? Could she come and look at his map for a second? It would only take a moment and he’d let her stroke the little kitten if she liked.

The van was just along the street and it wasn’t like she was really going away with a stranger, was it? She was just going a bit down the street and helping a nice man to take a sick little kitten back to a poor little old lady.

Complete ballocks, of course, and no one over the age of ten would go for it. But then again he didn’t want anyone over the age of ten, so what the fuck?

And as for that bloody cat?

Well, so what? It was a one off. So was the dog. No way would anything like that ever happen again. The chances against ever seeing either of those dumb animals again was a million to one. At least.



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