This story is by Christine Costa and was part of our 2018 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
“Have you tried the camembert?”
At the rich baritone’s question, I look up from my perusal of plastic looking cheeses, to find penetrating ice blue eyes on mine.
In a single glance I take in dark hair curling at his collar, slightly long but not scruffy, a black jumper that looks as if it is cashmere, over dark trousers that are definitely designer. A roguish smile plays at his lips and I snap my mouth shut before I embarrass myself by drooling.
“I can’t decide,” he says, moving slightly closer to me,holding up a round of camembert cheese, “between this or the brie. What do you think?”
His hands are beautiful too, long fingers, sensual like a piano player they seem to caress the wheel of cheese in a way that makes my pulse race. I casually brush a lock of my long blonde hair back, hoping it looks engaging.
“Em, I like brie.” I answer.
He gives me the benefit of a smile that lights up his face, and his eyes are, if anything, even bluer.
“Brie, of course, I should have known you would be a brie girl, you have the look of sophistication about you.”
Perhaps those beautiful eyes are a little short sighted, but I am not going to contradict him; it’s not every day I get called sophisticated.
“Jasper,” he introduces himself, putting down the camembert and holding out a hand. Of course he is a Jasper, I wouldn’t be surprised if his surname is Darcy.
“Hello, I’m Samantha,”
“Samantha,” with a smile he draws my proffered hand to his lips and kisses it gently. If he was Mr Darcy, I would have swooned right there, but as it is nine o’clock in the evening in a twenty first century supermarket, I settle for a simpering smile.
“Do you live round here?” he selects a Somerset brie from the shelves in front of us, placing it in a basket that already holds a bottle of red wine and a French bread loaf.
“Not far, how about you?”
“Just a five-minute stroll, I’ve just moved into this area actually, not got to know anyone yet to make friends with. Look, this is going to sound totally presumptuous, and probably a little weird, I’ll completely understand if you say no, but, I don’t suppose you’d join me in a glass of red with this brie?”
Why not? He’s gorgeous and I can tell him some good places to go to meet people. He looks about thirty and in our university town there is always a good mix of people and ages in the clubs and pubs. If things go well, maybe we can go together.
“Go on then, you look trustworthy.” I smile.
His apartment is tastefully decorated with dark wood flooring, a deep red Chesterfield sofa, matching armchair and a coffee table the only furniture apart from a large television mounted on a cream wall.
He gestures to the Chesterfield.
“Make yourself comfortable whilst I open this, I’ll be back in two ticks.”
He takes the wine bottle into what I assume is the kitchen, and I make myself comfortable as instructed.
He’s soon back with two wine glasses, one of which he hands to me, the other he places on the coffee table before returning to the kitchen. I take a sip of mine, it is nice and smooth and clearly more expensive than anything I have tasted before. It is also in a beautiful cut glass wine goblet that catches the light. I take another few tastes to calm my nerves.
Several newspapers are open on the coffee table and I wonder what it is that has his interest, I pick one up, sipping my wine as I read. I don’t hear him come back in until he speaks from behind me.
“What do you think?”
“Of the wine? It’s lovely, a good choice. You’re obviously a connoisseur.”
“I didn’t mean the wine, but yes I am a little,” he gestures to the paper, “What do you think of the story?”
He sits next to me and I take another gulp of wine, folding up the paper that I have been looking at. It carries the story, in some detail, of three very gruesome murders. All three girls have been found within a twenty-five-mile radius of here, and the Police have announced they are looking for a serial killer. A fourth girl has been reported missing since Wednesday.
“He’s a monster,” I comment, “whoever is doing this. A monster.”
“Yes? Define monster.”
I take another sip of wine, I can feel it going to my head a little and I need some food, but it doesn’t seem quite the right time to ask for the brie.
“Well, I mean, to be able to do such terrible things. What have those girls done to him, for goodness sake, to deserve such an awful end to their lives? They must have been terrified. Don’t you think it’s terrible? What would you call the person who is doing this, if not a monster?”
I look at him over the rim of my wine glass; he looks a bit fuzzy around the edges although I can see he is smiling.
“I would call him a connoisseur, ” he says, “a connoisseur of death. I would say he is an artist, displaying his work with precision and skill. I would not name what he does as monstrous. As for the women, perhaps they deserved their ending.”
“That’s sick.I’m leaving.”
I try to stand up but my legs won’t respond and he reaches up and pulls me back down again, taking the wine glass from my hand.
“You aren’t leaving Samantha,” he says, although his voice now sounds like it is coming from far away, “not yet. Not until we’ve got to know each other a little better.”
I must have fallen asleep at that point because I have woken up to find that I am in a nightmare. I don’t know where I am; not in the apartment anymore, I don’t think. Somewhere cold, perhaps a garage or a basement, it smells stale and dusty; I can’t feel any air moving so there are no open windows.
I am blindfolded and tied to something, but not sure what. I can’t move my legs, there is something tight around my ankles, even so I try hard to push against whatever is holding me without any success; I am shaking with fear. I have tried screaming through the gag in my mouth but nothing more than a muffled sound comes out; no-one will hear.
I feel nauseous and dizzy from whatever was in the wine and am shivering. I have read the papers and know what he intends for me and am terrified. Why did he choose me? Wrong place wrong time? Right place right time? Was he looking for a victim, or am I a bonus catch?
I try kicking again, but the binding is so tight I cannot even move a foot. I am icy cold and have lost all feeling in my hands. I try to think of what the police programmes I have watched advise; make friends with your captor is the first rule, let them see you as a person, not an object.
Can’t talk to him with a gag in my mouth. I don’t think he is interested in making friends, even though that was the line that caught me in his trap.
I am blonde, so were the other girls, I am tall, so were the other girls, I have green eyes, so did the other girls. I am too trusting, too stupid, too naive, too romantic to see danger wrapped up in a Mr Darcy exterior. Were they too?
My favourite childhood stories were Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, basically anything with a Princess in distress and a Prince to rescue her, and I’ve never stopped dreaming that that one day I would find my own Prince Charming. Instead, I have found the Bogey Man, the one who wants to hurt instead of protect.
This man murders to see his crime in print, he finds pleasure in seeing the horror his acts instil in people. Oh God, please, please, please don’t let this happen to me. I’ll do anything, anything at all, come back to church, be a better person, take food to the homeless. I promise, I promise I will live a kinder life, only save me from this monster. Please, God, please God, please God.
It’s Friday night, no-one is going to miss me before Monday morning, please let me get out of here alive.
A door open and closes.
He is coming.