I heard about it on the radio. Everyone did. Someone took a little girl downtown. She was on her way home from a friend’s house and she never made it home. Later, the radio reported that her torso was found floating in the lake. Her torso.

I wondered what happened. So I went to see.

I jumped back, about 2 hours before she got taken. The radio reports had been specific as to where she was taken so that’s where I went.

I left work, early this time, and caught the streetcar to the area where the girl was last seen.

Outside the Portuguese restaurant I waited, waiting for the 12 year old, brown haired girl to walk by. I’d seen her picture on the Internet by now. This place was on the route they suspected she’d taken home from the friend’s house.

And sure enough, there she was, walking down the street more focused on the strap of her backpack than the car that rolled up behind her. The beige Buick rolled to a stop just behind her and a tall white guy in jeans and jean jacket jumped out, leaving the engine running…

He ran up behind the girl and smiled as he picked her up. “There you are! I’ve been looking all over for you!” he said, knowing the people around him could hear. The girl, only 10 or so, looked at the man with confused eyes. She must be wondering if she knew the man or not.

The man carried her back to her car and put her in the front passenger seat, buckling her in a little too roughly. I floated over and attached myself to the car so I could watch as they pulled away from the curb and back into the late afternoon traffic.

The girl never said a word. Maybe she was too scared, maybe she was too confident. Had this happened before? Maybe Mom and Dad were the type who’d send a scumbag like this the pick up their kid. Maybe this wasn’t uncommon. But then the radio had reported this girl found dead tomorrow/yesterday. I’ll stick with it and see what happens.

The girl asked where they were going a couple times. She said she had to go home, once. She said she wanted to go home, once. She cried after that. Then she was quiet. The man never said anything.

The rest is terrible. He took her to a place, then another. Then he cut her into pieces. He enjoyed it. He enjoyed seeing her eyes when he took out the knife for the first time. Seeing the fear in her eyes made it all worthwhile, for a time. The risk was worth it.

He’d been ready for this for a long time. Something at night told him he should try it. What’s he got to lose? Nothing. A shitty house in a shit part of the city, working a shit job with no one to tell about it. Nothing.

So when he saw his target of opportunity walking down the street with no one to notice, he’d jumped at the chance. At first it was the scariest thing he’d done in his life. But the movies said, pretend like you belong and others will assume you do.

So he had approached the girl like he was a friend, spoken like a friend, snatched her up in the middle of the street in front of witnesses like he was a friend.

And the girl, too young and too confused to question the behaviour, had hesitated long enough for him to put her in the car. She wasn’t sure he was a friend, but she’d waited too long to start crying, and now screaming wouldn’t do any good.

When they reached the secluded spot at the docks, the spot he’d scouted out a thousand times before, he stopped the car and took a breath. He stared out the windshield and took another deep breath. As he let it out he was resigned to continue what he’d started. Go back now!? To what!? He turned to the girl in the seat next to him.

She wore a green raincoat and blue track pants. He looked at her and didn’t say anything. Through tears the girl said she wanted to go home. This seemed to infuriate him. (Shut up. I’m doing this. I need to know how it feels. I need to watch you die and know if it makes me better. You’re the problem. I fucking hate you. I have to. Fuck, I HATE YOU!)

Dropping the knife (plan A), he turned to the girl and strangled the life out of her ten-year-old body. She died in the front seat of a beige Buick, not knowing if it was her fault. She didn’t know why it happened. She wanted her Mom and Dad to come and help her, and as the last bit of oxygen escaped her brain, she wondered why they weren’t there to help her. Didn’t they love her?

It was that last thought in her head that was the most tragic part.

The man held her neck until she stopped moving. She twitched a bit, and then stopped.

He was breathing hard, anticipating some kind of fight or something. Something like lightening from the sky, striking him, making him stronger, like The Quickening. Something that would show that the universe had acknowledged what he’d done. Where was the sign that acknowledged the milestone he’d passed?

It didn’t come.

All he could do was let go of the girl’s neck.

Her blue face stared up at the ceiling of the Buick. Her body was twisted. Her left foot pressed against his right leg in her last attempt to push him away. It hadn’t worked.

Calm returned to the man: Deep breaths and a stare at the fogged windshield. How long had he been here? The engine was still running. Had anyone noticed? What the hell did he just do? Holy shit, get out of here.

Wait. Driving around with a dead kid in the passenger seat is probably not a good idea. Ok, here’s where your superior intellect kicks in. Remember, you’re smarter than most people, so figure this out and fix it now. You gotta work tomorrow.

He thinks a moment and then jumps out of the car, into the trunk and he returns with the blanket he keeps for emergencies. The man throws it over the kid and drives off.

The rationale I feel from him: Think about it, a body shaped lump, under a blanket, in the front seat: anyone would think it’s a sleeping kid. He’s so smart.

He drives home at the speed limit, and pulls into the driveway.

The garage is full of shit: fucking bicycles and fucking Tonka kid’s jeeps and other fucking kids stuff. Fucking kids.

He jumps out and starts pushing the larger roadblocks into the back of the garage. Then, back to the Buick to slowly ram the remaining obstacles out of the way. Just enough to get the tail end into the garage and the door closed. Safe.

Now he thinks he’s so smart:

Ok. Superior intellect check: Go into the house; greet the kids and wife in the usual manner. Have an alibi. Have something. Something to point to if the cops ever find you. But why would they? You don’t know the kid, the kid doesn’t know you. You don’t even work in the area where you found her. No way they put you together.

Into the house. Hug the kids, hug the wife, put down the bag. Set the cell phone in the charger. Normal.

He heads upstairs now and changes his clothes. Into the weekend jeans and stainable t-shirt – the green one with the holes under the arms. Normal.

Downstairs to ask, “what’s for dinner?” and not expecting anything. Normal. As usual, the wife and kids ate before he got home. It’s up to him to fend for himself. Fine. Normally he likes cooking, but today there’s pressing business in the garage.

So the man sits in the living room. The LIVING room. Seems strange to say it now. Anyway, he watches the television until 8pm when the kids go to bed. The wife will be up for hours more, watching crap, but it doesn’t matter. The man tells her he’ll be out in the garage cleaning up. I’m bored and it’s garbage day tomorrow anyway. ‘Night.

Back to the Buick with the crosscut saw from the basement workshop. Remembering murder cases from the past, it looks like the man’s decided to cut up the evidence and dispose of it in pieces. Very interesting.

A few garbage bags, a garage floor, a cross cut saw and a garden hose become accessories to the deed. The dismembered body is placed in a few Glad bags and reloaded into the trunk of the Buick for the last time.

It’s late now. The wife is in bed. The man sneaks back out and into the car. A quick trip to the bluffs is easy in the non-existent traffic of the night.

He backs up the Buick and proceeds to throw the individually wrapped pieces of 10-year-old girl into the lake.

Then comes the strangest part. All the bags are gone, including the saw. The garage is clean. The wife is none the wiser when he pulls into the driveway an hour later. No one saw anything out the ordinary when the man picked up the 10-year-old girl off the street. And now there’s no body. No habeas corpus. No case. Let them come.

Let them come. That’d be something. Let them haul him into court. Face the judge and tell him he has no idea why he’s here. Let them look at The Black Demon of the Night in the light of court, and watch him deny the charges and be set free. Free to do it again, if it pleases Him.

See, He’s got something on the rest of the world now. He knows he can do it. He needed so badly to be better than someone. And now He’s better than everyone. He can do it again if He wants.

What are you looking at? You don’t know what I’m capable of...

The problem is, if He’s the only one who knows what He’s capable of it, well, it’s not really worth much, right? You see, the man is about to fuck up. And he knows it. And he knows he needs it. He had to do it to satisfy himself and He knew He could do it, but then the objective changed: he needs to let everyone else know what he’s capable of.

It’s about respect. Let them tremble when they see Him. “He’s that guy who did that thing to that little girl”. That’s right. That’s Me.

But all too late he realises why they have jails and prisons. It’s because people don’t want to live with people who have that kind of power over them. He finds out that once he proves he’s better than all of them, they won’t let him live among them. They beat Him, again. As usual.

As a single person, he’s better than all the other single people. But as a group, they take him, try him, convict him and throw him into the concrete hell with the other demons.

The other demons don’t understand what’s gone wrong with their plans, any more than the man does with is. So the cycle starts again. Now the man must prove he’s better than the other demons, but the level of the game has just increased and perhaps he can’t compete. He knows he can’t: there are no 10-year-old girls here.

But it doesn’t matter. The rest of us are on the outside, so it doesn’t matter who’s the best on the inside. We’re outside. And all we can do is weep for the victims left in the wake of a weaker person’s insecurity.

As I fade back into the present, back to my own body, I can’t help but think that perhaps I contributed to the man’s actions. Did I, at some point, make him feel so powerless and weak, that he had to prove his worth, his convictions, by lashing out at a 10 year old girl?

But then, consider that perhaps one 10-year-old girl was a fair toll to pay on the road to enlightenment for the man. Maybe his soul can die much the wiser now. What if he really is better than all of us because of what he’s done?

Are we inferior for caring what happens to the 10 year olds?

Inspired by actual events in my (and perhaps your) life. The real question is (setting human emotion aside) did we gain anything from this, and was the gain worth the cost?

Fiction is such Terrible Amusement.