It had been so long since Alex had interacted with children he had forgotten what it was like. They were so vulnerable. Long before he had known that while they had their own appeal, they also tended to draw a lot of attention, and the cons outweighed the pros. Tonight though, he was his own man, free to do as he pleased, and it was an illicit thrill to cross that line for the first time in years.
The girl had been too young, he decided in the end, as he was digging through the family drawers. He had found the key for the gun lock in the next drawer and the fact that it had been so accessible both thrilled him and frightened him. But now he had a gun and the irony of its potential use was even more exciting. So much of what he did when he chose to spend time with someone was based on the conversations they had. True, much of it was mewling and begging and meaningless interludes like that, but the gems of sentience that popped up in between, the words of wisdom, the treasured memories, the desperation, they were as much of the appeal for him as the moment when the life finally escaped the body after trying so very hard to stay. The girl's age had prevented him from deriving this pleasure from her death, so in the end it had been fairly perfunctory. Alex wondered if there was not a corollary between the length of a life lived and the value placed on it. He thought back. Had the oldest lives he had taken been the ones that had tried to hold on the most? He felt sure that if that were the case he would have noticed long before now. The first veteran was older and was appealing because he got away with it, not because of any particular quality of the victim.
The boy had been a fighter and Alex had enjoyed that. Again, the conversation was limited, the boy seemed to understand his station very quickly and had seemed to simply decide to give Alex as little satisfaction as possible. Somehow, perversely, that had been satisfying on some strange level as well. He did not try to understand it, but it pleased him.
Now, briefly at least, the house belonged to Alex and he could do what he wanted. He realized, on some level, that his life had shifted substantially. He was not on the offensive, invading spaces, taking lives he would have never considered just 24 hours ago. There would be ways to cover his tracks, but even those would draw some kind of attention, attention he most certainly would not have welcomed before. Now he shivered, delighted at the planning that would be required as a consequence of his new activities.
Once he had explored the house, poking into all the corners, discovering the private, hidden secrets of the house, he began to prepare for the detective's homecoming. The family had been the necessary step, a wonderful one, to be sure, but a step, not the destination. Sometime soon the police officer with the preposterous last name would come home and Alex would be waiting. He had found new toys in the kitchen that he'd never used before and he had created a space in the living room to work in.
He would get the drop on Wozcynski, he knew, as he sat on the couch, waiting for the ring of keys outside the front door. The porch light was off, an innocent enough thing for a man coming home in the middle of the night, but it was enough to disguise the chips that were missing from the door due to Alex's violent entrance.
The coffee table held his toys, his tools, his chosen implements, and he vowed to himself that even if the detective didn't last long, he would get to use every one of them. There was the gun, of course, bolt cutters from the garage, heavy kitchen scissors, a small cleaver, and the tool that excited him the most: A battery operated Sawzall, a power saw with a blade that moved back and forth, like an electric carving knife on steroids. He had tested it out on the corner of the coffee table and the action and sound it made as it tore back and forth made him tingle. It left a small cloud in the air over the cut, the torn fibers reduced to floating dust particles. He knew that sawing bone resulted in much the same effect, but he wondered what it would do to flesh. He had used a circular saw once and had found the results satisfying, if extraordinarily messy. This implement seemed to have a bit more control.
Headlights splashed through a hole in the curtains and stabbed the wall behind Alex, illuminating a family portrait. Due to the late, or early, he supposed, hour, he felt sure it must be the detective. He smiled in the dark, waiting for the sound of the keys.
“Daddy's home,” he whispered.