The Murder of Cassie Hartford
Someone is trying to kill me.
If I haven’t been sure of it before, I am certain of it now. For weeks they have kept a watchful eye on me… lurking in the shadows, minding my every move, revealing nothing of their identity yet never failing to make their presence known… or the power which they hold over me. More than once, I have alerted the authorities but there is very little that they can do… not without sufficient evidence, not without clues.
Whoever it is that’s stalking me must have some knowledge of what they are doing… for there are no loose ends, no false steps, no inaccuracies on their part. Every move is deliberate, intricately planned, and perfectly executed. Devoid of fingerprints, DNA or any unusual recordings in the security cameras installed in all entrance and exits in the building, I might as well have imagined the whole thing.
Except it’s real. As real as the untouched cup of tea staring at me unabashedly from my kitchen table. Where it came from and how it got there, I’ll never know. Yet, here it is, the vermilion liquid predicting blood.
One might ask why? Why not do it here and now? Why all this torment? Why me? But these, I think are inanely futile questions. Does one ask a predator why it chooses its prey? Does one question the pleasure it receives during the hunt? And does one dare to examine the reasons why a beast of prey pauses to relish the look on its victim’s eyes on that short second before the slaughter…?
I am a single female living alone in a big city where plenty of horrifying things occur daily. I have no family and very little acquaintances. No one will miss me when I’m gone. If these aren’t enough reasons for a serial killer to single me out as an easy target, I don’t know what is… but above all, I believe, it’s my fear that they find most irresistible. I think it’s the terror that they’ve instilled in me that keeps feeding them… the aroma of my inherent faintheartedness– a heady aphrodisiac nurturing their obsession… that very same nervousness and reticence that keeps me from seeking help from strangers for fear that they might think I’m crazy. And with each passing day I could feel the assailant growing stronger for right now, at this very moment, I am utterly and extremely terrified.
This morning I woke up with a sense of impending doom. Whoever it is that wants to kill me, is planning to do it soon. Perhaps even tonight. Once again I discarded another cup of tea. With every stroke of this pen, I feel my last shreds of courage progressively dissolving into nonexistence. But more than that, I sense something within me. It’s as though with each passing day, I’m slowly fading into nothingness… In my nightmares, I saw myself dropping into a black bottomless chasm… desperately clawing at the air for that elusive rope, my frightened screams dying in my throat. I can’t let them do this to me! Tomorrow, I intend to put up hidden cameras in my bedroom. God knows how they always manage to get past the building’s doorman, the cameras by the door and the burglar alarm in my apartment but I plan to find out who they are once and for all. This ends now.
Eva finished reading the last journal entry, her expression one of sheer contempt, then unceremoniously flung the notebook into the fireplace. She poured herself a fresh cup of tea, savoring its soft floral notes before allowing the warm bittersweet drink to touch her crimson mouth. She had painted her lips red in celebration. Cassie’s right. It has ended now. Finally. After years and years of being pushed into the background, it is at last Eva’s time to sparkle. Her time to live. Eva was bold, brazen… a sensual soul who yearned for freedom and sophistication. She wanted to see, hear, taste, touch everything in the world. Cassie’s a loner… a pathetic little hermit who was perfectly content to go about her banal existence. And so very often, she had stood in Eva’s way. Not anymore…
Eva was born when Cassie was six years old. It was during the time when their parents were getting a divorce. That morning, Cassie had overheard the adults’ heated conversation and though still very young, she was old enough to comprehend that the fairytale life that she had always known was about to be shattered into insignificance. Cassie had ran up to the attic with her hands over her ears, tears trickling down her soft plump cheeks. There in the company of the unwanted and the forgotten, she stayed the entire day, whimpering in one corner. It was nearly dusk before someone had found her. By the time the setting sun engulfed the sky in orange flames, Eva was born.
Eva was the exact opposite of Cassie. No two girls could have been more different. Whereas Cassie was timid and awkward, Eva was fearless and self-assured. But with Eva’s confidence came what could only be described as an evil streak. Once, she had persuaded Cassie into stealing money from Mrs. Hartford’s purse for some ice cream, for which Cassie got caught and was punished. There was also that one time in school when she had goaded Cassie into engaging in a fistfight with another kid, resulting to suspension. From childhood to early adolescence, Eva was constantly getting Cassie into trouble but most of the time Cassie’s kind and gentle nature would prevail.
It wasn’t until Cassie entered adulthood that Eva came to loosen her grip on her. Cassie was able to live in quiet contentedness. But her mom’s accidental death, followed by her father’s illness and gradual demise, inevitably brought Eva back into her life. Cassie needed Eva… her strength and indifference. Just as she had needed Eva during that time in the attic.
As with most cases of multiple personality disorder, the host, Cassie possessed no awareness of Eva – the alter personality that she created to shield herself from the painful childhood trauma. The little girl who came out of the attic on that awful day wasn’t a grief-stricken Cassie but a smiling, unaffected Eva. True to dissociative identity disorder, Cassie had no recollection of what she did each time Eva took over. Eva, on the other hand, was deeply aware. She knew very well when she was needed. So Eva returned… with every intention of remaining.
But then there’s Cleo… Cleo was born the day Cassie’s father died…
© 2013 K.Z. Morano
*images from ermiliablog*