"Cat got your tongue?"
Jeff smirks, staring at me wish his wide eyes, hands still petting my dog who's happy enough to be touched by a murdering, psychopath without a care in the world. I stare at him, making note of what looks to be fresh blood stains on his hoodie. I peer around cautiously but thankfully don't see the remains of any victims lying around anywhere. I think I've seen enough dead bodies.
"I've...not seen you for a while..", I stammer, rather desperate to move Tina away from his grasp. I don't believe he'd hurt her, knowing she's my dog, but with Jeff, I can never be too sure what's going on inside his head. He seems happy enough with her, currently. Maybe he had a pet dog when he was a kid.
"Been busy", is Jeff's idle reply, shrugging in an almost bored looking manner.
At this point in time, seeing Jeff again for the first time in forever, feels good. I completely forget everything he's done to make me scared or mad at him. It's the kind of feeling when your best friend leaves to go on holiday and they're gone for so long and when they finally come back you suddenly don't feel so lonely any more. And everything feels okay again..
I glance down at my phone and can already see that the message is from an unknown number.
Not this again.
The mystery texter.
Well, at least I can rule out Jeff as a suspect behind the freaky messages. I see no phone in his hand. One phone is in his pocket, the other still petting my dog's head. Unless he has an incredible talent to text in perfect English without looking at his phone, I doubt he is the culprit. He's barely focusing on me anyway. He is just smiling in almost warm way at my dog. Wow, a manic killer with a soft spot for fluffy, cute animals. There's something. He doesn't even glance up when I finally bite the bullet and open the message.
"Take your dog and get out of there now."
The phone nearly ends up on the ground. I try hard to keep my composure but my eyes and nervous composure instantly give it away and then Jeff catches me glancing around from side to side.
"What are you so wound up about?"
Who am I fooling? Certainly not Jeff. He stares at me then down at Tina and smirks at her.
"Hear that? Your owner is telling lies to me. That's not very nice at all is it?"
I can't help but help but feel a cold shiver run down my spine at the tone of his voice. He's joking. I think and hope so anyway. But the way he says it, is with a sinister, manic edge to every word as if to make his point that he is the dominant one here and could cut me up in the space of 5 seconds if he wanted to. Hopefully he doesn't.
"No really it's nothing....Okay it's kinda something...but not really anything..."
Jeff raises an eyebrow at my burbling and I just sigh, defeated.
"It's just some prankster texting me. They've been texting me the last couple of days and it's just freaking me out a bit. It's like they're stalking me."
"What makes you say that?"
"Well, if you want to know, they just text me there telling me I should take my dog and leave ASAP."
"Without even saying goodbye? How rude."
"You don't think it's someone...who wants to kill me or anything...do you?"
"I hope not."
I smile warmly to myself. My insane, manic yet charming man sticking up for me, more or less saying he'd come to my rescue, protecting me...
"Because the bastard would be stealing my job."
I roll my eyes then just shrug.
"Like I said. Probably nothing."
"But could be something, like you also said."
It's an awkward silence for a few moments. I don't know what to say. There's a small part of me that does feel I should be leaving the woods now with Tina but I don't want to anger Jeff. Especially with my dog present. Jeff's insane. He could snap, change or turn heel in the space of seconds.
Then in a sudden wave of flashback and memories, something springs into my mind. A feeling towards Jeff I've had for days that I wanted to put aside but couldn't. I was distracted from it there but now I remember. And I just can't resist a confrontation to Jeff about it.
"Why did you kill my friend?"
I might as well be blunt.
"My friend. You killed her."
"I kill many people a day. You have to be specific."
"Catherine, that was her name."
"I don't ask my victims for their name."
"Blonde hair. My age. Tall and thin."
"Slaughtered many of them in my time."
"The one you killed in the hospital!", I bravely raise my voice, getting impatient.
"Oh, her? Oh I remember her. She was lovely."
"You know what? She wasn't even much of a screamer."
I stare at Jeff in a horrific silence, disgusted at the way he is describing my deceased friend.
"I stuck that knife deep into her abdomen and she barely even whimpered. You know? I think she may just be my favourite victim so far. So brave."
"STOP IT!", I eventually snap. "STOP IT! Just....just shut up!"
I didn't mean to say it. I forgot who I was talking to. I didn't care. I just couldn't stand there a moment longer and listen to those horrible words. Every thing he said just, if by magic, created visions in my head. Realistic, accurate, horrifying visions as if they were a memory. As if I were there when it happened and watched it all unfold. And now that it's in my head I can't get it out. And suddenly it's brought back all the shame. The feeling of guilt and the feeling of being a let down.
I don't even register Jeff's sudden silence and stare right at me. When I eventually lock eyes with him, I realise that I can not feel any warmth, safety, or compassion in those eyes like I usually can. The expression I read from him now is....nothing. Cold. Empty. Dead. Souless.
I've seen this before.
I have to get out of here. Grab my dog and go, like the text said.
Being as slow and subtle as I can, I gingerly reach down to grab my dog by the collar so I can slip her leash back on. Even if I have to just make a run for it, I'll do it. Providing I don't trip over on a branch, mind you, or I'll most certainly be a goner. I don't dare breakaway from Jeff's gaze, hoping having his eyes locked on mine will be enough to keep him from realising what I'm doing.
This is Jeff the Killer we're talking about.
He doesn't do distractions.
Suddenly in a rough, dominant manner he grabs my hand, squeezing it a little too tight that I gasp in surprise and discomfort.
"Leaving so soon?", he says in an almost cooing like manner, head tilted slightly, eyes widening as far as possible. His voice sounds slightly different, more lighter yet eerily quieter. Almost like a dark hiss. I swallow a lump in my throat, fighting hard to stop any signs of fear showing on my face. Jeff loves fear.
"Y-yes, yeah. I need to....go now.."
"And you weren't even going to say goodbye. Now that is rude indeed. Very. Very rude. I don't like that. I don't like people with no manners. No no. No not at all..."
He's burbling and half muttering words, still staring at me. I'm frightened now and I understand what went wrong. Jeff likes dominance. Jeff likes to show that he is in charge, he's the boss. If I play along I'm safe. If I don't....
"Sorry". It comes out as a shameful, mouse squeak but I don't dare raise my voice again just in case.
Jeff doesn't listen though. He just keeps muttering words to himself, suddenly gripping my hand tighter and tighter. It's becoming painful.
"Jeff. Jeff you're hurting me!"
Suddenly Tina realises too what's going on and begins growling, taking a defensive stance to Jeff, despite my pleas and orders to her to stop. I know she's being protective like most dogs are with their owners but if Tina were to get hurt or worse I would NEVER forgive myself. If she attacks Jeff I highly doubt he'd take it lightly...
"Jeff?" I try and use a calm, mother like voice. "Jeff. I'm sorry I yelled. Just please... let go of my hand. I need to go now."
I'm trying hard to snap him out before his dark insanity completely takes over. His grip loosens slightly so it looks like it may be working. I sound pathetic, I know, but I'd rather be pathetic than a mangled body left for the wild animals and bugs to eat at. I hear Tina growling louder, ready to attack. Luckily, Jeff doesn't seem to notice her but I'm fully aware. I need to try and get out of this so nobody gets hurt here.
He's letting my hand go and I'm starting to recognise the look slowly spreading across Jeff's eyes.
Another text. It was a sudden loud noise in the awkward silence, it made all of us jump, including the dog. The dog being the worse candidate. The noise seemed to be the final straw for her. With a loud snarl and bark, she suddenly sprung forward and bit down hard right on to Jeff's arm.
His eyes widen in surprise and let go of my hand instantly, holding his arm, blood starting to soak his sleeve. I take the chance to get Tina's leash on but my hands are so shaky I keep fumbling and dropping the leash and I keep losing grip of her collar.
"Come on, come on", I mutter to myself, heart thumping when I hear even more growls. Louder and human this time. Right behind me.
With a last attempt I finally click the leash on to Tina's collar and turn round... only to be shoved violently into a tree.
I gasp in surprise. I feel spit and swear hit my face as well as heavy breathing. Two hands roughly grip my shoulders, having me pinned to the tree, unable to move. I hear Tina barking but I keep her behind the tree, out of harms way. I look into Jeff's eyes. They're completely cold this time. He is seething and trembling with rage, teeth bared. I don't know what the text said but if it's telling me that I'm about to die then it's probably correct. Because as Jeff suddenly let's go of my shoulder, I see the familiar glint of something shiny and silver in his hand.
Something blood stained.
"NO! JEFF!" I scream.
I see the blade coming towards me, I shut my eyes tight and...