by Jordan James
He kept his victims in a neatly arranged row in the back of the freezer. Each hung from a meat hook with their hands tied behind their backs. Six corpses hung, frozen and long dead. Only one hook was left unoccupied. Hanging still to the far left of the room. The cleanest of the set.
Johann sat on the stool behind the freezer door as sirens wailed outside the Larson’s Butcher Shop. The police were rushing in, and he had no weapon to defend himself. No plan of escape. His time was up. He would be caught and spend the rest of his life in a prison cell. But prisons were dirty. Disorderly. Prisoners yelled and rioted. They were seldom clean and often savage.
His finger twitched and he scratched his chin. Eyes locked on to the door. Footsteps were just on the other side. Thudding like thunderstorms as they stomped on the tiles with their black boots and waved their fists Shouting, pounding on the freezer, the officers were desperate to break through. Desperate to achieve a goal they’d long sought and return home to their wives accomplished men.
Then there was the first strike of the battering ram. Not even the reinforced steel would withstand it for long. Another strike.
The noise was too much for Johann. Steel rattling out as the men once again counted down from three and their enforcers collided with the metal. He stood, ears ringing and heart beating. He faced his victims, their eyes empty. One by one, he studied each.
Margery, the accountant who lived above him. Her poodle, a constant emitter of noise. He’d asked her to silence him before, twice over the phone, once in person. She never obliged.
Strike. A hinge fell from the door.
Ace, the man who painted his apartment for fifty dollars and a sports ticket. Johann asked for white paint but Ace used beige. He refused to redo the job.
Strike. The police were relentless.
Catherine, the barista at his local coffee shop. She never made the hot chocolate warm enough, and when asked about it she simply rolled her eyes. He had a strange feeling she spit in his cup that day.
Strike. Not much longer until the door fell.
Sawyer, Margery’s husband. Perhaps it was a mistake to speak to him about his wife’s rowdy pet as Sawyer was known for being an arrogant and hot tempered lawyer, but a punch in the face was a push too far.
Strike. Another hinge.
Claudia, the woman who worked four cubicles down. She was in charge of reporting to the boss about employees’ behavior. Johann had decided to smoke a cigarette one day, an act that challenged company rules. She promised to keep quiet but that apparently was not the case.
Strike. The last two hinges fell.
Dori, the boss. He fired Johann for smoking on the balcony and breaking company rules, despite the fact he committed the deed himself as well. The final ingredient in Johann’s grudge.
Strike. The door no longer separated Johann from his pursuers.
Before the police could make their move, he fixated on the last hook, enticing in it’s empty perfection. An unfinished set that, if he were to give up now, would never be completed. Johann stepped to it. Men with guns filled the room, their figures distorted by the low lighting. Johann opened his mouth. If he stood on his toes he could reach the hook. Men yelled at him, their weapons ready to fire. Johann again stepped forward. The metal of the hook tasted like cold rain. The tip scratched his throat. He stepped forward.